DOI: 10.1044/2023_ajslp-23-00071 ISSN:

The NeuroBel: A Screening Test for Verbal Language Impairment in Spanish-Speaking Elderly People With Cognitive Decline

José A. Adrián, Geidy Bermúdez-Llusá, José M. Caramés, María J. Rodríguez-Parra, Juan C. Arango-Lasprilla
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Otorhinolaryngology


The NeuroBel is a short test that can detect cognitive decline using language tasks. This study replicated previous research using larger clinical samples from three Spanish-speaking countries.


Eight tasks were used to analyze verbal language functioning using a psycholinguistic approach. A total of 232 elderly, monolingual Spanish speakers from Spain, Cuba, and Colombia participated in this study. Of these, 76 had Alzheimer's disease (AD) in the initial phase, 75 had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 81 did not exhibit cognitive impairment (healthy controls).


Significant differences were observed among the three clinical groups. The participants with AD and the participants with MCI had significantly lower NeuroBel scores than the control group on most of the tasks. However, repetition (in AD vs. MCI) and auditory lexical decision (in MCI vs. control) tasks were not significant in Tukey's post hoc tests. Discriminant analysis showed that 80.6% of the participants were correctly classified into the original groups and revealed the tasks that were the best and worst for differentiating among groups. The receiver-operating characteristic curves showed high sensitivity for AD and MCI. The area under the curve was .97 in the contrast of AD versus MCI + controls, .96 in the determination of overall cognitive decline (AD + MCI vs. controls), and .93 in the contrast of MCI and control groups.


This study confirmed that the NeuroBel is a suitable test for detecting cognitive decline based on language impairment in Spanish-speaking elderly people.

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