Primary Progressive Aphasia: Use of Graphical Markers for an Early and Differential Diagnosis

Brain Sci. 2021 Sep 11;11(9):1198. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11091198.


Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) brings together neurodegenerative pathologies whose main characteristic is to start with a progressive language disorder. PPA diagnosis is often delayed in non-specialised clinical settings. With the technologies' development, new writing parameters can be extracted, such as the writing pressure on a touch pad. Despite some studies having highlighted differences between patients with typical Alzheimer's disease (AD) and healthy controls, writing parameters in PPAs are understudied. The objective was to verify if the writing pressure in different linguistic and non-linguistic tasks can differentiate patients with PPA from patients with AD and healthy subjects. Patients with PPA (n = 32), patients with AD (n = 22) and healthy controls (n = 26) were included in this study. They performed a set of handwriting tasks on an iPad® digital tablet, including linguistic, cognitive non-linguistic, and non-cognitive non-linguistic tasks. Average and maximum writing pressures were extracted for each task. We found significant differences in writing pressure, between healthy controls and patients with PPA, and between patients with PPA and AD. However, the classification of performances was dependent on the nature of the tasks. These results suggest that measuring writing pressure in graphical tasks may improve the early diagnosis of PPA, and the differential diagnosis between PPA and AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; differential diagnosis; graphical markers; graphical parameters; primary progressive aphasia; writing pressure.