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The language disorder of prion disease is characteristic of a dynamic aphasia and is rarely an isolated clinical feature.

The language disorder of prion disease is characteristic of a dynamic aphasia and is rarely an isolated clinical feature.
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Caine D, Nihat A, Crabb P, Rudge P, Cipolotti L, Collinge J, Mead S,


Caine D, Nihat A, Crabb P, Rudge P, Cipolotti L, Collinge J, Mead S, (click to view)

Caine D, Nihat A, Crabb P, Rudge P, Cipolotti L, Collinge J, Mead S,

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PloS one 2018 01 0513(1) e0190818 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0190818
Abstract
BACKGROUND
Akinetic mutism is a key diagnostic feature of prion diseases, however, their rapidly progressive nature makes detailed investigation of the language disorder in a large cohort extremely challenging. This study aims to position prion diseases in the nosology of language disorders and improve early clinical recognition.

METHODS
A systematic, prospective investigation of language disorders in a large cohort of patients diagnosed with prion diseases. 568 patients were included as a sub-study of the National Prion Monitoring Cohort. All patients had at least one assessment with the MRC Scale, a milestone-based functional scale with language and non-language components. Forty patients, with early symptoms and able to travel to the study site, were also administered a comprehensive battery of language tests (spontaneous speech, semantics, syntax, repetition, naming, comprehension and lexical retrieval under different conditions).

RESULTS
5/568 (0.9%) patients presented with leading language symptoms. Those with repeated measurements deteriorated at a slower rate in language compared to non-language milestones. Amongst the subgroup of 40 patients who underwent detailed language testing, only three tasks-semantic and phonemic fluency and sentence comprehension-were particularly vulnerable early in the disease. These tasks were highly correlated with performance on non-verbal executive tests. Patients were also impaired on a test of dynamic aphasia.

CONCLUSION
These results provide evidence that the language disorder in prion disease is rarely an isolated clinical or cognitive feature. The language abnormality is indicative of a dynamic aphasia in the context of a prominent dysexecutive syndrome, similar to that seen in patients with the degenerative movement disorder progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

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