Information content and efficiency in the spoken discourse of individuals with parkinson’s disease

Angela Roberts*, Danielle Post

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study compared the information content and information efficiency of spoken language in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to a healthy comparator group. Method: Nineteen participants with PD and 19 healthy older adults completed the prospective, cross-sectional study. In the primary analysis, 2 language samples elicited by standardized protocols were analyzed for group differences using standard discourse informativeness measures including main events (MEs; Wright, Capilouto, Wagovich, Cranfill, & Davis, 2005) analyzed as %MEs and correct information units (CIUs; Nicholas & Brookshire, 1993) analyzed as %CIUs and CIUs/min. In exploratory analyses, the following were examined: (a) associations among conceptual (%MEs) and lexical (%CIUs and CIUs/min) measures and (b) associations among informativeness measures and age, education, disease severity/duration, global cognition, speech intelligibility, and a verb confrontation naming measure. Results: In the primary analysis, the PD group differed significantly from the control group on conceptual (%MEs) and lexical measures of content (%CIUs) and efficiency (CIUs/min). In exploratory analyses, for the control group %MEs were significantly correlated with CIUs/min. Significant associations among conceptual and lexical measures of informativeness were not found in the PD group. For controls, there were no significant correlations between informativeness measures and any of the demographic or speech/cognitive/ language variables. In the PD group, there was a significant and positive association between CIUs/min and Dementia Rating Scale–Second Edition scores (Mattis, 2001). A significant but negative correlation was found between CIUs/min and motor severity scores. However, %MEs and verb naming were significantly and positively correlated. Conclusions: Individuals with PD without dementia demonstrated reduced discourse informativeness that reflects disruptions to both conceptual and lexical discourse processes. In exploratory analyses, reduced efficiency of information content was associated with global cognition and motor severity. Clinical and research implications are discussed within a Cognitivist framework of discourse production (Sheratt, 2007).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2259-2274
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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