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Clin Linguist Phon. 2017;31(5):391-408. doi: 10.1080/02699206.2016.1277390. Epub 2017 Feb 7.

Inter-individual variability in discourse informativeness in elderly populations.

Author information

a Toulouse NeuroImaging Centre , Toulouse University, Inserm, UPS , Toulouse , France.
b Octogone-Lordat Interdisciplinary Research Unit (EA 4156) , University of Toulouse II-Jean Jaurès , Toulouse , France.
c Neurology Department, Neuroscience Centre , Toulouse University Hospital , Toulouse , France.
d "Knowledge, Texts, Language" Research Unit (UMR 8163), Speech Therapy Department , Faculty of Medicine, Lille University , Lille , France.
e Laboratory for the Exploration of Memory in Neurosciences (LMENS) , University of Lausanne (UNIL), Lausanne University Hospital , Lausanne , Switzerland.
f Institute of Language and Communication Sciences , Neuchâtel University , Neuchâtel , Switzerland.


An increasing number of studies focus on discourse production in patients with neurodegenerative diseases and underline its clinical usefulness. However, if this is to be used as a clinical tool, one needs to consider how normal discourse varies within cognitively unimpaired elderly populations. In the current study, the aim has been to investigate discourse macrolinguistic variability. For this, 123 participants aged between 55 and 84 were recruited. A cluster analysis of their discourse macrolinguistic features was conducted. Then, cluster characterisation based on socio-demographic and linguistic performance was tested (fluency, naming, syntax and spelling). This method aims to identify various profiles of speaker and informativeness and then see if inter-individual variability may be related to socio-demographic and/or linguistic aspects. Four clusters of informativeness were found but no socio-demographic features appeared significant. The fourth cluster, defined as 'off topic', had lower performance during linguistic tasks than others and thus the boundary between normality and pathology should be questioned.


Cluster analysis; cognition; discourse analysis; inter-individual variability; narrative

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