Speech analysis and dementia risk

Investigating automated analysis of spoken language to predict clinical and biological indicators of dementia risk

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

In Australia, roughly 500,000 people are living with dementia, at a cost of around $15 billion per year. Roughly 40% of dementia cases could be prevented through modifiable risk factors, yet we are currently not intervening early enough in the disease spectrum. Tasmania has the highest median age of any Australian state or territory, and a high prevalence of chronic conditions that are also risk factors for dementia.

Language is a window into the brain. Recently, new evidence has shown how spoken language can reveal an individual’s cognitive status, and automated audio analysis of speech may offer cost-effective, accessible and scalable avenues to early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This project will investigate the potential of speech analysis to detect the earliest signals of dementia, measured against validated blood-based biomarkers and cognitive tests that are biological and cognitive markers of dementia risk.

Using existing baseline data collected from ISLAND (Island Study Linking Ageing and Disease), a longitudinal study of roughly 14,000 Tasmanians over 50 years of age, this project will analyse how spoken language relates to cognitive and biological markers of dementia. It will also provide an opportunity for prospective data collection, and the development of a custom testing platform to administer a specific speech task the wider ISLAND cohort.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Jane Alty


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Strong communication skills, strong record keeping skills

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in statistical analysis, experience in audio analysis

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact A/Prof Jane Alty to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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