Impaired recognition of negative facial emotions in patients with frontotemporal dementia

Patients with behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) have difficulties recognizing facial emotions, a deficit that may contribute to their impaired social skills. In three experiments, we investigated the FTD deficit in recognition of facial emotions, by comparing six patients with impaired social conduct, nine Alzheimer’s patients, and 10 age-matched healthy adults. Experiment 1 revealed that FTD patients were impaired in the recognition of negative facial emotions. Experiment 2 replicated these findings when participants had to determine whether two faces were expressing the same or different emotions. Experiment 3 was a control study in which participants had to discriminate whether two faces were of the same sex. In this non-emotional processing task, both patient groups performed worse than normal participants, but FTD patients performed as well as Alzheimer’s patients. We conclude that FTD patients are impaired in the recognition of negative facial emotions. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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