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      Computerized assessment of syntactic complexity in Alzheimer's disease: a case study of Iris Murdoch's writing.

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          Abstract

          Currently, the majority of investigations of linguistic manifestations of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease are conducted based on manual linguistic analysis. Grammatical complexity is one of the language use characteristics sensitive to the effects of Alzheimer's disease and is difficult to operationalize and measure using manual approaches. In the current study, we demonstrate the application of computational linguistic methods to automate the analysis of grammatical complexity. We implemented the Computerized Linguistic Analysis System (CLAS) based on the Stanford syntactic parser (Klein and Manning, Pattern Recognition, 38(9), 1407-1419, 2005) for longitudinal analysis of changes in syntactic complexity in language affected by neurodegenerative disorders. We manually validated CLAS scoring and used it to analyze writings of Iris Murdoch, a renowned Irish author diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. We found clear patterns of decline in grammatical complexity consistent with previous analyses of Murdoch's writing conducted by Garrard, Maloney, Hodges, and Patterson (Brain, 128(250-260, 2005). CLAS is a fully automated system that may be used to derive objective and reproducible measures of syntactic complexity in language production and can be particularly useful in longitudinal studies with large volumes of language samples.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Behav Res Methods
          Behavior research methods
          Springer Nature
          1554-3528
          1554-351X
          Mar 2011
          : 43
          : 1
          Affiliations
          [1 ] University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN, USA. pakh0002@umn.edu
          Article
          10.3758/s13428-010-0037-9
          21287110
          d6900d70-30b2-4bc2-92ac-a5254aaac08a

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