Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Brain Cogn. 2013 Jun;82(1):25-34. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Mar 16.

Fear recognition impairment in early-stage Alzheimer's disease: when focusing on the eyes region improves performance.

Author information

  • 1Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition, CNRS UMR-5105, Grenoble, France.


A decline in the ability to identify fearful expression has been frequently reported in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). In patients with severe destruction of the bilateral amygdala, similar difficulties have been reduced by using an explicit visual exploration strategy focusing on gaze. The current study assessed the possibility of applying a similar strategy in AD patients to improve fear recognition. It also assessed the possibility of improving fear recognition when a visual exploration strategy induced AD patients to process the eyes region. Seventeen patients with mild AD and 34 healthy subjects (17 young adults and 17 older adults) performed a classical task of emotional identification of faces expressing happiness, anger, and fear in two conditions: The face appeared progressively from the eyes region to the periphery (eyes region condition) or it appeared as a whole (global condition). Specific impairment in identifying a fearful expression was shown in AD patients compared with older adult controls during the global condition. Fear expression recognition was significantly improved in AD patients during the eyes region condition, in which they performed similarly to older adult controls. Our results suggest that using a different strategy of face exploration, starting first with processing of the eyes region, may compensate for a fear recognition deficit in AD patients. Findings suggest that a part of this deficit could be related to visuo-perceptual impairments. Additionally, these findings suggest that the decline of fearful face recognition reported in both normal aging and in AD may result from impairment of non-amygdalar processing in both groups and impairment of amygdalar-dependent processing in AD.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk