DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA AND PROBABLE AD PATIENTS REGARDING THE DISCRIMINATION OF FACIALLY CONVEYED EMOTIONS: A STUDY WITH SIGNAL DETECTION THEORY

  • Margarida R. Sobral
  • Armando M. Oliveira

Abstract

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by behavioraldisorders that suggest abnormalities of emotional processing. This study compares FTDpatients, Alzheimer Disease (AD) patients, and a sample of matched controls regarding thediscrimination of intensities of facially conveyed emotions. Two same-different roving taskswere used, with pairs of emotion-conveying faces (of a same person) and with pairs ofneutral faces (same and different persons). Comparisons were based on sensitivity andcriteria parameters derived from Signal Detection Theory. Patients performed worse thancontrols in the discrimination of emotional expressions, but not in the discrimination ofdifferent neutral faces. FTD patients performed worse than AD patients for intensities ofSadness and (less clearly) of Fear, but outperformed AD patients when intensities todiscriminate were of Joy. This might suggest a differential pattern of sensitivity loss in thepatients groups, dependent on the valence and activation level of the specific emotions.
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