The Diagnostic Value of Language Screening in Primary Progressive Aphasia: Validation and Application of the Sydney Language Battery


Purpose: The three variants of primary progressive aphasia (PPA) differ in clinical presentation, underlying brain pathology, and clinical course, which stresses the need for early differentiation. However, brief cognitive tests that validly distinguish between all PPA variants are lacking. The Sydney Language Battery (SYDBAT) is a promising screening instrument that can be used as a first step in a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment to distinguish PPA subtypes, but evidence on its validity and reliability is to date limited. In the current study, the validation and diagnostic value of the SYDBAT are described for discriminating PPA subtypes as well as distinguishing PPA from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s dementia (AD). Method: Forty-five patients with PPA (13 with semantic PPA, 20 with logopenic PPA, and 12 with nonfluent/agrammatic PPA), 25 MCI patients, 13 AD patients, and 50 cognitively unimpaired controls were included in this study. Both patients and controls completed the SYDBAT-NL (Dutch version). Performance on and predictive ability of the four subtests (i.e., Naming, Word Comprehension, Repetition, and Semantic Association) were assessed. In addition, construct validity and internal consistency were examined. Results: Different SYDBAT performance patterns were found across PPA and non-PPA patient groups. While a discriminant function analysis based on SYDBAT subtest scores could predict PPA subtype with 78% accuracy, it was more difficult to disentangle PPA from non-PPA patients based on SYDBAT scores alone. For assisting in clinical interpretation, simple rules were set up and translated into a diagnostic decision tree for subtyping PPA, which was capable of diagnosing a large proportion of the cases. Satisfying validity and reliability measures were found. Conclusions: The SYDBAT is an easy-to-use and promising screen for assessing single-word language processes, which may contribute to the differential diagnostic process of PPA and the assessment of language impairment in MCI and AD. It can be easily implemented for initial screening of patients in a memory clinic.

In: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Rejection history:

Journal Outcome Reason
Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society Rejected after reviews Significant concerns

Nikki Janssen
former PhD candidate; current collaborator