Apraxia of speech (AOS) is a motor speech disorder characterized by slow speaking rate, abnormal prosody and distorted sound substitutions, additions, repetitions and prolongations, sometimes accompanied by groping, and trial and error articulatory movements. Although AOS is frequently subsumed under the heading of aphasia, and indeed most often co-occurs with aphasia, it can be the predominant or even the sole manifestation of a degenerative neurological disease. In this study we determine whether the clinical classifications of aphasia and AOS correlated with pathological diagnoses and specific biochemical and anatomical structural abnormalities. Seventeen cases with initial diagnoses of a degenerative aphasia or AOS were re-classified independently by two speech-language pathologists - blinded to pathological and biochemical findings - into one of five operationally defined categories of aphasia and AOS. Pathological diagnoses in the 17 cases were progressive supranuclear palsy in 6, corticobasal degeneration in 5, frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-only-immunoreactive changes in 5 and Pick's disease in 1. Magnetic resonance imaging analysis using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), and single photon emission tomography were completed, blinded to the clinical diagnoses, and clinicoimaging and clinicopathological associations were then sought. Interjudge clinical classification reliability was 87% (κ = 0.8) for all evaluations. Eleven cases had evidence of AOS, of which all (100%) had a pathological diagnosis characterized by underlying tau biochemistry, while five of the other six cases without AOS did not have tau biochemistry (P = 0.001). A majority of the 17 cases had more than one yearly evaluation, demonstrating the evolution of the speech and language syndromes, as well as motor signs. VBM revealed the premotor and supplemental motor cortices to be the main cortical regions associated with AOS, while the anterior peri-sylvian region was associated with non-fluent aphasia. Refining the classification of the degenerative aphasias and AOS may be necessary to improve our understanding of the relationships among behavioural, pathological and imaging correlations.
- Apraxia of speech
- Premotor cortex
- Progressive supranuclear palsy
- Supplementary motor cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas