Social cognition and social functioning in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's dementia
Number of pages
SourceJournal of Neuropsychology, 15, 2, (2021), pp. 186-203
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC NRP
Journal of Neuropsychology
SubjectNeuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
The aim of the present study was to examine social cognition and social functioning in a group of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and Alzheimer's dementia (AD) patients. Thirty one people with aMCI, 29 individuals with AD, and 45 healthy older adults participated in the study. Facial expressions of happiness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise presented in different intensities had to be labelled. Mentalizing was assessed using first-order belief theory of mind (ToM) stories and everyday social functioning by the Inventory of Interpersonal Situations (IIS), completed by an informant. aMCI patients were impaired in recognizing the emotions anger, disgust, and fear, while AD patients were impaired in recognizing the emotions anger, disgust, and surprise. More importantly, no significant differences between aMCI and AD patients were found on overall emotion recognition. Both the aMCI and AD patients were impaired on the ToM task, but no differences between the aMCI and AD patients were found. On everyday social functioning, only the AD patients showed impairments. No associations between the IIS and ToM were found, but the IIS and emotion perception were significantly correlated. Regression analysis taking all potentially confounding variables into account showed that only mood, but not the social-cognitive task performance or any other cognitive variable, predicted social functioning. aMCI and AD patients demonstrated impairments in mentalizing and facial emotion perception, and showed decrements in everyday social functioning. Informing caregivers about these deficits may help them to understand deficits in social cognition that may be present already in the MCI stage of Alzheimer's disease.
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