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Neuropsychologia. 2002;40(6):655-65.

Face and emotion processing in frontal variant frontotemporal dementia.

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MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK.


Lavenu et al. [Alzheimer Dis. Assoc. Disorder 5 (1999) 96] have shown that patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) show impaired recognition of facial expressions. It is not clear, however, whether these deficits arise from an impairment affecting face processing generally, emotion processing generally, or facial expression recognition alone. We address this issue by testing six patients with frontal variant frontotemporal dementia (fvFTD) on a series of face perception tasks (including facial identity and facial expression recognition), and a test of vocal emotion recognition. In general, the fvFTD participants showed impaired recognition of facial expressions in the context of preserved recognition of facial identity. In addition, however, deficits were also observed for the vocal emotion recognition task. These results are consistent with the idea that fvFTD affects the recognition of emotional signals from multiple modalities rather than facial expression processing alone. It is plausible that the emotion recognition impairments observed contribute to the abnormal social behaviour that is characteristic of this condition.

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