Speech and motor changes in dementia

Speech and motor changes in different types of dementia

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

This collaborative project brings together interdisciplinary expertise and established datasets from Tasmania and Victoria. It aims to determine the signature motor and speech patterns of different subtypes of dementia. This would inform future development of new digital screening tools.

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is usually characterised by progressive memory loss, and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) by changes in behaviour and personality. Speech, language and motor changes occur in both AD and FTD but few studies have compared these in detail, and rarely with new precise Artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools.  Primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a dementia type of mostly AD or FTD aetiology, begins with speech-language deficits before affecting memory, behaviours, personality and executive functions. A classification consensus was reached in 2008 to recognise three main types of PPA. The logopenic variant of PPA often has the same aetiology as AD, while the non-fluent variant and semantic variant of PPA often have an FTD aetiology.  A better understanding of the speech, language and motor features would help develop new digital screening tools for these conditions.

This project will build upon established large speech, language and motor datasets in Tasmania and Victoria that have been collected from people with AD, FTD, PPA, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and healthy controls. This project involves two stages: stage one is a cross-sectional study to compare these features between groups and stage two is a longitudinal study that involves collecting data from the same groups of participants one year after the initial assessments. The speech, language and motor data. has been collected via the NHMRC-funded Tasmania Test (TAS Test) project led by A/Prof Alty (neurologist, Tasmania) and from existing datasets led by Prof Vogel (speech pathologist, Victoria).

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.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


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 record keeping skills, good team-working

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in statistical 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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