The way you speak can reveal an awful lot about you, including whether you have early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, claim US scientists.

Research is underway to find a vocal test which may detect the onset of dementia. The test could even be carried out on a smartphone, via an app.

The study involves hooking up Alzheimer’s patients to a brain scan and microphone while they perform vocal tasks. Vocal differences between normally ageing adults and those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, should then be revealed.

‘You react to stimuli with your voice automatically, without even realising it,’ explains Sona Patel, the scientist leading the research at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Speech patterns and vocal differences have already been shown to reveal tell-tale signs of Parkinson’s disease with an impressive 99 per cent accuracy. If a voice test for dementia could also be found – and conducted on a mobile phone app – it has the potential to offer a simpler and less expensive form of diagnosis.

‘A patient or doctor could do a quick test with a vocal recording and the score would indicate the likelihood of a neurological problem,’ adds Patel. ‘If the patient can be diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, treatments and drug therapies can start at that time, possibly slowing the disease progression.’

The research is due to finish next year.