Difficulty detecting sincerity in speech can be indicator of dementia


April 18, 2011

A new study conducted by a research team at the University of California San Francisco has found that an older adult who has a harder time detecting insincere speech – such as lies or sarcasm – may have dementia. 

"If somebody has strange behavior and they stop understanding things like sarcasm and lies, they should see a specialist who can make sure this is not the start of one of these diseases," concluded Dr. Katherine Rankin.

She suggested that this difficulty could help healthcare professionals diagnose patients with dementia earlier than before, and without expensive machinery or risky scanning.

The scientists discovered these results by studying 175 participants and more than half had some form of neurological disorder. Each individual watched several videos of two people talking, one of whom would show verbal and non-verbal cues of insincerity.

Seniors who are suffering from forms of dementia may also require additional safety measures, such as an elderly alert system. This device allows users to immediately send a medical alert to emergency call centers.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease across the country.