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Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2007;23(4):271-9. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Deficits in facial emotion processing in mild cognitive impairment.

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Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7226, USA.



Patients with Alzheimer disease consistently demonstrate impaired performance on tests of facial emotion processing. However, it remains unclear how early in the neurodegenerative process these deficits emerge.


We approached this question by examining facial emotional processing in a 'pre-dementia' condition, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Nine single-domain amnestic MCI subjects, 14 multiple-domain amnestic MCI subjects (MCI-MD), and 68 normal control subjects were assessed with the Florida Affect Battery.


After adjustment for age and gender, analyses of performance across the facial affect processing subtests of the Florida Affect Battery demonstrated intact performance in the single-domain MCI group but significantly impaired performance in the MCI-MD group, particularly on a test of facial affect discrimination. Within the MCI-MD group, men performed disproportionately worse than women. Performance on facial affect discriminations in the MCI-MD group correlated most robustly with performance on tests of frontal/executive function.


These data suggest that facial emotion processing can be impaired in MCI prior to the more marked cognitive deficits seen with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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