WATCH: Trump Appeared To Have Trouble Speaking At West Point Today
At West Point today, the president referred to American five-star General Douglas MacArthur as "McGarther".
For Trump, the bigger challenge appeared to be finding the right words for the right moment. (see videos from the West Point address today below)
Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline. STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain.
The reason linguistic and cognitive decline often go hand in hand, studies show, is that fluency reflects the performance of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the seat of higher-order cognitive functions such as working memory, judgment, understanding, and planning, as well as the temporal lobe, which searches for and retrieves the right words from memory. Neurologists therefore use tests of verbal fluency, and especially how it has changed over time, to assess cognitive status.
Those tests ask, for instance, how many words beginning with W a patient can list, and how many breeds of dogs he can name, rather than have patients speak spontaneously. The latter “is too hard to score,” said neuropsychologist Sterling Johnson, of the University of Wisconsin, who studies brain function in Alzheimer’s disease. “But everyday speech is definitely a way of measuring cognitive decline. If people are noticing [a change in Trump’s language agility], that’s meaningful.”
Although neither Johnson nor other experts STAT consulted said the apparent loss of linguistic fluency was unambiguous evidence of mental decline, most thought something was going on.
John Montgomery, a psychologist in New York City and adjunct professor at New York University, said “it’s hard to say definitively without rigorous testing” of Trump’s speaking patterns, “but I think it’s pretty safe to say that Trump has had significant cognitive decline over the years.”
Clips from West Point Today
1. Trump is struggling to find the words here.
2."Ulyssius S Grant" - President Ulysses S. Grant.
3."McGarther" - General Douglas MacArthur'