“Ronald Reagan started to have a decline in the number of unique words with repetitions of statements over time,” [said Janet Cohen Sherman, clinical director of the Psychology Assessment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital]. “[He] started using more fillers, more empty phrases, like ‘thing’ or ‘something’ or things like ‘basically’ or ‘actually’ or ‘well’.”What about a blog that rambles on for 13 years?
Worsening “mental imprecision” was the key, rather than people simply being verbose, however. “Many individuals may be long-winded, that’s not a concern,” said Sherman.
Sherman and colleagues had initially set out to test the “regression hypothesis”, the idea that language is lost in a reverse trajectory to how it was acquired during childhood, with sophisticated vocabulary being the first thing to go.I wonder what would happen if the words of this blog were analyzed in a computer — the growing/shrinking/stable vocabulary, the frequency of repetition, the drift to or from imprecision. You'd first have to extract all the quoted material....
As I said 4 years ago — oh, no, I'm repeating myself — if I got Alzheimer's, I'd blog right through it, like the man in this Washington Post article. Ah! Now, I'm looking to see whatever happened to this man — he's a retired doctor named David Hilfiker — and I see he published this a year ago:
I stopped writing this blog in October 2014 because I'd discovered that I did not, in fact, have Alzheimer’s disease.... Cognitively I've been stable now for almost two years and over the past six months certain abilities have actually improved: I'm able to concentrate a bit more, and I don't get confused as much as I did. I still have significant deficits in memory, in word-finding, in organizing my thoughts, in multi-step cognitive processing, and in certain kinds of computation. Aside from my memory decline and my difficulty word-finding, however, most people don't recognize anything wrong or they think that it's just a result of aging. I believe it has to be more than aging, but whether it is or not is no longer important to me....Fascinating!
ADDED: Maybe the blogging cured him. The blog was titled "Watching the Lights Go Out." Maybe the real/secret title is Keep Turning Lights On.