Emotion processing in Alzheimer's disease

Romola Bucks, S.A. Radford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


To date, there have been few studies of emotion processing in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, yet this may have an important effect on the quality of life of both sufferers and their families. This paper describes an investigation of the relative changes in cognition and in recognition and identification of non-verbal communicative signals of emotion in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and seeks to address the implications for clinical practice. Twelve adults with a diagnosis of 'probable' Alzheimer's disease and 12 matched older adult healthy comparison participants undertook a series of tasks involving face and prosody discrimination. Facial stimuli were presented on cards, and prosodic stimuli on audiotape. Scores were compared with a measure of general cognitive ability. There was a significant difference between the Alzheimer's disease group and healthy older adult group on emotion and cognition tasks respectively. However, the ability to recognize and identify non-verbal affect cues in emotional facial expression and emotional prosody was preserved relative to general cognitive ability in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In addition, there were no differences found in the recognition of different emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, fear or neutral). This relative sparing of non-verbal emotional processing skills has implications for provision of assessment and interventions based on the creation of effective forms of communication that are less reliant on cognitive ability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-232
JournalAging & mental health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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