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J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29(4):817-26. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-111490.

Influence of emotional content and context on memory in mild Alzheimer's disease.

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INSERM U1028, CNRS UMR5292, Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Brain Dynamics and Cognition Team, Lyon, France.


Healthy subjects remember emotional stimuli better than neutral, as well as stimuli embedded in an emotional context. This better memory of emotional messages is linked to an amygdalo-hippocampal cooperation taking place in a larger fronto-temporal network particularly sensitive to pathological aging. Amygdala is mainly involved in gist memory of emotional messages. Whether emotional content or context enhances memory in mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients is still debated. The aim of the present study is to examine the influence of emotional content and emotional context on the memory in mild AD, and whether this influence is linked to amygdala volume. Fifteen patients affected by mild AD and 15 age-matched controls were submitted to series of negative, positive, and neutral pictures. Each series was embedded in an emotional or neutral sound context. At the end of each series, participants had to freely recall pictures, and answer questions about each picture. Amygdala volumes were measured on patient 3D-MRI scans. In the present study, emotional content significantly favored memory of gist but not of details in healthy elderly and in AD patients. Patients' amygdala volume was positively correlated to emotional content memory effect, implying a reduced memory benefit from emotional content when amygdala was atrophied. A positive context enhanced memory of pictures in healthy elderly, but not in AD, corroborating early fronto-temporal dysfunction and early working memory limitation in this disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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