PAUSES IN SPEECH MAY INDICATE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

A study suggests the more pauses and filler words you use when speaking may be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers had people describe a picture they were shown in taped sessions two years apart. Those with early-stage mild cognitive problems slid much faster on certain verbal skills than those who didn’t develop thinking problems. The study also found that those at risk tend to use words such as “it” or “they” rather than specific names and also speak in shorter sentences. But researchers say don’t panic as lots of people say “um” and have trouble quickly recalling names as they age, and that doesn’t mean trouble is on the way. The findings were presented at this week’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.