Investigators at the Universities of Minnesota and Florida determined the effect of topiramate on linguistic behavior, verbal recall and working memory using a computational linguistics system for automated language and speech analysis (SALSA). Twenty-five healthy volunteers between 18 and 50 years of age at 2 study sites received either 100 mg oral topiramate, 2 mg oral lorazepam (active control), and placebo or topiramate and placebo in a randomized, double-blind, crossover design. Neuropsychological tests, language/verbal tests, and SALSA were performed on speech samples recorded during the tests. Topiramate plasma levels that ranged from 0.23 to 2.81 mcg/ml were associated with impairment of 1) measures of verbal fluency elicited during a picture description task, 2) correct number of words recalled on a paragraph recall test, and 3) reaction time recorded during a working memory task. The novel system of automated speech and language analysis (SALSA) allows determination of drug plasma concentration and its impact on cognitive functioning as reflected in spoken language discourse. [1]

COMMENT. The SALSA automated language analysis in healthy volunteers is thought to establish effects of a drug on cognition, natural language and speech production in the absence of cognitive impairment associated with epilepsy and its underlying brain dysfunction. The single dose test limits ability to define chronic effects.