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Friday, February 11

Xymphora Wrong on Bush's Alzheimer's

Recently, in Reference to George Bush's recent addition to the Dubyaspeak lexicon, Xymphora blogger referred to Bush's Alzheimer's. It's Aphasia, not Alzheimer's. If anything, Bush suffers from a mild condition of Aphasia, or at the very least, the Dry Drunk syndrome

"What is aphasia? Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections.

Aphasia can be so severe as to make communication with the patient almost impossible, or it can be very mild. It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, or the ability to put words together into sentences, or the ability to read."

No wonder Bush claims not to read the newspapers - it's probably frustrating for him.

Aphasia seems to be caused by a stroke - in Bush's case, accompanied by choking on pretzels. Daily Kos had it right when it was speculated that Bush's speech loss was caused by a stroke.


The Aphasia theory explains the Bushwire theory. If Bush has had trouble with his heart, then he may have well been wearing a full-time heart defibrillator. If he is having trouble talking, it may well have simply been an earpiece with David Frum on the other end. Ever since Bush stopped using teleprompters and started using his earpiece, he's been talking a lot better. Oh well - aphasia, alzheimer's - it's all the same thing - something used to describe Bush's erratic behavior.

A Doctor comments:

The most striking bit of decline, as indicated by this particular video, is decreased verbal fluency -- rate of word production per unit of time -- sometimes referred to as progressive nonfluent aphasia. That is generally an indicator not so much of presenile dementia but of frontal/temporal dementia. Patients with frontotemporal dementia remain oriented to time and place, show preserved visuospatial ability, and do not initially show memory deficits. However, they show "early and progressive change in language, characterized by problems with expression of language or severe naming difficulty and problems with word meaning." (Work Group on Frontotemporal Dementia and Pick's Disease)

Mean age of onset is mid to late 50's. Frontotemporal dementia carries with it a high risk of impulsivity.

Reference: Razani J, Boone KB, Miller BL, Lee A, Sherman D: Neuropsychological performance of right and left frontotemporal dementia compared to Alzheimer's disease J Int Neuropsychol Soc 2001 7 468-480.

The best way to determine whether such a diagnosis is accurate, without access to Bush himself, would be to calculate a verbal fluency score from a random sample of speeches ten years ago and from a random sample now.

Otherwise there is the obvious problem of selective editing.

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Department of Psychology
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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