at the University of California, Davis say patients with Alzheimer's
disease have difficulty recognizing facial emotions.
examined Alzheimer's patients, healthy elderly volunteers,
and elderly, non-demented psychiatric outpatients, testing
three measures -- facial emotion matching, facial emotion
labeling, and same-different emotion differentiation.
area, the Alzheimer patients were "significantly impaired"
when compared to the control groups.
Alzheimer patients also had problems matching facial identities,
suggesting that the inability to process facial emotion may
be independent of the inability to process nonemotional features
of the face.
significant finding was the patients' selective difficulty
in labeling facial expressions of sadness.
may also help explain some of the interpersonal difficulties
that some Alzheimer patients are prone to," said Dr.
Rita Hargrave, the study's lead author. "If you don't
have awareness, you'll keep doing (or saying) what you're
on her finding, Hargrave said she hopes researchers will be
prompted to take her study a few steps further.
would recommend that future researchers (gauge responses)
which look at body language, movement, tone of voice, etc.,"
she said. "We're looking at static images - MRIs, CTscans.
But (researchers) could use some of the same tests, and add
PET scans, to examine brain activity, as well."
of March 17, 2002