Emotional indifference in Alzheimer's disease

Academic Article


  • One of the most common and disabling symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is apathy. Patients with Alzheimer's disease might appear apathetic for several reasons, including deficits in emotional communication, presence of depression, perceptual-semantic-cognitive deficits, and a degeneration of areas of the brain important in experiencing emotions. The purpose of this study was to learn if patients with Alzheimer's disease have a reduction in the depth of their emotional experiences. Participants with Alzheimer's disease and healthy comparison subjects were asked to view pleasant and unpleasant pictures and to rate these pictures by making a mark on pieces of paper that had a happy face on one end (proximal or distal) and a sad face at the other end. The more pleasant they found this picture, the closer their mark should be to the happy face and vice versa. Patients with Alzheimer's disease judged these pictures' emotional valence as less intense than did the comparison subjects and also made more valence-inconsistent responses. These results might have been induced by impaired picture comprehension or a reduction of emotional experiences induced by degeneration of the limbic-cortical-reticular networks. Copyright © 2010 American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Drago V; Foster PS; Chanei L; Rembisz J; Meador K; Finney G; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 236
  • End Page

  • 242
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 2