Navigation Links
Emotions May Be Blunted in Alzheimer's Patients
Date:7/13/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with Alzheimer's disease often can seem withdrawn and apathetic, symptoms frequently attributed to memory problems or difficulty finding the right words.

But patients with the progressive brain disorder may also have a reduced ability to experience emotions, a new study suggests.

When researchers from the University of Florida and other institutions showed a small group of Alzheimer's patients 10 positive and 10 negative pictures, and asked them to rate them as pleasant or unpleasant, they reacted with less intensity than did the group of healthy participants.

"For the most part, they seemed to understand the emotion [normally evoked from the picture they were looking at]," said Dr. Kenneth Heilman, senior author of the study and a professor of neurology at the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute. But, he added, their reactions were different from those of the healthy participants.

"Even when they comprehended the scene, their emotional reaction was very blunted," he said. The study is published online in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

The study participants -- seven with Alzheimer's and eight without -- made a mark on a piece of paper that had a happy face on one end and a sad one on the other, putting the mark closer to the happy face the more pleasing they found the picture and closer to the sad face the more distressing.

Compared to the healthy participants, those with Alzheimer's found the pictures less intense.

They didn't find the pleasant pictures (such as babies and puppies) as pleasant as did the healthy participants. They found the negative pictures (snakes, spiders) less negative.

"If you have a blunted emotion, people will say you look withdrawn," Heilman said.

One important take-home message, he added, is for families and physicians not to automatically think a patient with blunted emotions is depressed and ask for or prescribe antidepressants without a thorough evaluation first.

Exactly why this blunting of emotions may occur isn't known, Heilman said. He speculates there may be a degradation of part of the brain or loss of control of part of the brain important for experiencing emotion. Or a neurotransmitter important for experiencing emotion may undergo degradation.

What the finding suggests is that as the memory goes, so does some emotion, said Dr. Gary Kennedy, a geriatric psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, who reviewed the findings.

"Emotion and memory go together," he said. "The more emotion you can attach to an event, the more likely you are to remember. I think what this paper is telling us is that the disease is causing the emotional response to become more and more shallow over time."

Apathy seen in Alzheimer's patients is often reported by family members, Kennedy said. "Apathy is a heartbreaker for the family," he said.

Even so, both Kennedy and Heilman had a positive message for family members. For family, it's not to take it personally if a loved one with Alzheimer's is apathetic. "Don't interpret it as being done willfully," Kennedy said.

Heilman said families can try to make information more explicit when talking to those with Alzheimer's, in an effort to help emotions kick in. If you show a loved one a picture, for instance, give verbal details about the person or object in it, he suggested. You may see less apathy in response.

The research was supported in part by Lundbeck Pharmaceutical Co., whose products include Alzheimer's medicine.

More information

To learn more about the stage of Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.

SOURCES: Gary Kennedy, M.D., director, geriatric psychiatry, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; Kenneth Heilman, M.D., James E. Rooks Jr. Distinguished Professor, department of neurology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville; Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, online, Spring 2010


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Executives who take the fewest risks have the most negative emotions
2. Botox May Temporarily Paralyze Emotions, Too
3. Managing the emotions behind eating
4. Even As Memory Fades, Emotions Linger
5. Bromley Brook Boarding School for Girls Creates Focus Cards to Help Students Regulate Emotions, Solve Problems
6. Anxiety Disorder Patients Process Emotions Differently
7. People with anxiety disorder less able to regulate response to negative emotions, study shows
8. Can Self-Hypnosis Help Tourette Patients Control Tics?
9. Pain, dry mouth may play role in sleep quality of head and neck cancer patients
10. Talking touchscreens aid patients
11. Study suggests link between scleroderma, cancer in certain patients
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Lori R. Somekh, founder of the ... national organization of elder law and special needs planning attorneys. “Membership in ElderCounsel helps ... provides a forum to network with elder law attorneys nationwide,” said Somekh. , ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids Fun ... NJ. This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, is ... is geared towards children of all ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, which ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... “America On The Brink”: the Christian history of the United States and ... of published author, William Nowers. Captain Nowers and his wife, Millie, have six ... years in the Navy. Following his career as a naval aviator and carrier ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... IsoComforter, Inc. ( ... today the introduction of an innovative new design of the shoulder pad. The ... get maximum comfort while controlling your pain while using cold therapy. By utilizing ice ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... ... HMP , a leader in healthcare events and education, today announced that ... for ‘Best B-to-B Healthcare Website.’ Winners were announced during the Eddie & Ozzie Awards ... recognizes editorial and design excellence across a range of sectors. This year’s program included ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... CHICAGO , Oct. 11, 2017  Hill-Rom Holdings, ... its Aspen Surgical facility in Las Piedras, ... surgical scalpels and blades. ... confirmed that the facility sustained minor structural damage, temporary ... Hurricane Maria. Repairs have been completed, manufacturing operations have ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... --  Provista, a proven leader in the supply ... power, today announced a new resource area on Provistaco.com ... is the online home for case studies, articles on ... releases, slideshows and events. ... at their fingertips, viewers can also watch short videos ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... Oct. 4, 2017  According to the Centers for Disease Control and ... October . PhysicianOne Urgent Care is helping communities across Massachusetts ... , by offering no-cost* flu shots through the end of the ... certain health insurance regulations. ... time to get a flu shot is by the end of October, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: