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Article

Changes in Pronoun Use a Decade before Clinical Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia—Linguistic Contexts Suggest Problems in Perspective-Taking

1
Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics, 10117 Berlin, Germany
2
Section of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Diego Iacono
Brain Sci. 2022, 12(1), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12010121
Received: 5 December 2021 / Revised: 9 January 2022 / Accepted: 14 January 2022 / Published: 17 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Early Recognition of Alzheimer´s Disease)
The use of pronouns has been shown to change pathologically in the early phases of Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD). So far, the findings have been of a quantitative nature. Little is known, however, about the developmental path of the change, its onset, the domains in which it initially occurs, and if and how it spreads to other linguistic domains. The present study investigates pronoun use in six speakers of German a decade before they were clinically diagnosed with AD (LAD) and six biographically matched healthy controls (CTR). The data originate from monologic spoken language elicited by semi-spontaneous biographical interviews. Investigation of nine pronoun types revealed group differences in the use of three pronoun types: D-pronouns—a specific pronoun type of German for reference to persons and objects; the impersonal pronoun man ‘one’, and the propositional pronoun das ‘this/that’. Investigation of the linguistic contexts in which these three pronoun types were used revealed a correlation with declines in elaborative and evaluative information; that is, information the hearer would benefit from in creating an informed model of the discourse. We, therefore, hypothesize that the early changes in language use due to AD point to problems in perspective-taking, specifically in taking the hearer’s perspective. View Full-Text
Keywords: prodromal Alzheimer’s Dementia; pronoun use; evaluative and elaborative information; German prodromal Alzheimer’s Dementia; pronoun use; evaluative and elaborative information; German
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bittner, D.; Frankenberg, C.; Schröder, J. Changes in Pronoun Use a Decade before Clinical Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia—Linguistic Contexts Suggest Problems in Perspective-Taking. Brain Sci. 2022, 12, 121. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12010121

AMA Style

Bittner D, Frankenberg C, Schröder J. Changes in Pronoun Use a Decade before Clinical Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia—Linguistic Contexts Suggest Problems in Perspective-Taking. Brain Sciences. 2022; 12(1):121. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12010121

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bittner, Dagmar, Claudia Frankenberg, and Johannes Schröder. 2022. "Changes in Pronoun Use a Decade before Clinical Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia—Linguistic Contexts Suggest Problems in Perspective-Taking" Brain Sciences 12, no. 1: 121. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12010121

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