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Graph Theoretical Analysis of Semantic Fluency in Patients with Parkinson's Disease.

Semantic fluency is the ability to name items from a given category within a limited time, which relies on semantic memory, working memory, and executive function. Semantic disfluency is a common problem in Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). We demonstrated a graph theoretical analysis of semantic fluency in patients with PD ( N = 86), patients with AD ( N = 40), and healthy controls (HC, N = 88). All participants completed a standard animal fluency test. Their verbal responses were recorded, transcripted, and transformed into directed speech graphs. Patients with PD generated fewer correct words than HC and more correct words than patients with AD. Patients with PD showed higher density, shorter diameter, and shorter average shortest path length than HC, but lower density, longer diameter, and longer average shortest path length than patients with AD. It suggests that patients with PD produced relatively smaller and denser speech graphs. Moreover, in PD, the densities of speech graphs correlated with the severity of non-motor symptoms, but not the severity of motor symptoms. The graph theoretical analysis revealed new features of semantic disfluency in patients with PD.

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