Degradation of emotion processing ability in corticobasal syndrome and Alzheimer's disease

Fiona Kumfor*, Laurie Anne Sapey-Triomphe, Cristian E. Leyton, James R. Burrell, John R. Hodges, Olivier Piguet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Disturbed emotion processing and difficulty with social interactions are present to variable degrees in dementia. They are characteristic features of frontotemporal dementia, whereas these deficits tend to be mild in Alzheimer's disease, reflecting the different patterns of neurodegeneration seen in these disorders. Corticobasal syndrome is an atypical parkinsonian disorder clinically and pathologically related to frontotemporal dementia. Corticobasal syndrome typically presents as a motor disturbance, although cognitive and behavioural changes are now recognized. Pathological changes are found in frontoparietal cortical regions and in the basal ganglia; regions that are heavily involved in emotion processing. Despite the overlap with frontotemporal dementia and the observed regions of brain atrophy, emotion processing has not been systematically explored in corticobasal syndrome. This study aimed to (i) comprehensively examine emotion processing in corticobasal syndrome in comparison to Alzheimer's disease, to determine whether emotion processing deficits exist in this syndrome, beyond those seen in Alzheimer's disease; and (ii) identify the neural correlates underlying emotion processing in corticobasal syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. Sixteen patients with corticobasal syndrome, 18 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 22 matched healthy control subjects were assessed on a comprehensive battery of face and emotion processing tasks. Behavioural analyses revealed deficits in both basic face processing and high-level emotion processing tasks in patients with corticobasal syndrome. Notably, the emotion processing disturbance persisted even after controlling for face processing deficits. In contrast, patients with Alzheimer's disease were impaired on high-level complex and cognitively demanding emotion recognition tasks (Ekman 60, The Awareness of Social Inference Test) only. Neuroimaging analyses using FreeSurfer revealed that emotion processing deficits in corticobasal syndrome were associated with basal ganglia volume loss as well as cortical thinning of the left paracentral gyrus/precuneus region. In Alzheimer's disease, however, emotion processing deficits were associated with atrophy in a different set of brain regions, including the right cingulate and the bilateral insulae, as well as the hippocampi, right amygdala and nucleus accumbens bilaterally. Our results demonstrate that patients with corticobasal syndrome experience widespread deficits in emotion processing, and these deficits are related to changes in brain regions known to be crucial for emotion processing. These findings have important clinical implications for the treatment and management of these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3061-3072
Number of pages12
JournalBrain
Volume137
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Basal ganglia
  • Dementia
  • Face processing
  • Striatum

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    Kumfor, F., Sapey-Triomphe, L. A., Leyton, C. E., Burrell, J. R., Hodges, J. R., & Piguet, O. (2014). Degradation of emotion processing ability in corticobasal syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. Brain, 137(11), 3061-3072. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu246