An Association between Depression and Emotion Recognition from the Facial Expression in Mild Cognitive Impairment

Authors: A. Kadlecová 1,2;  J. Laczó 1,2;  M. Vyhnálek 1,2;  K. Sheardová 3;  D. Hořínek 2,4;  J. Amlerová 1;  D. Hudeček 2;  J. Hort 1,2
Authors‘ workplace: Kognitivní centrum, 2. LF UK a FN v Motole, Praha 1;  ICRC, FN u sv. Anny v Brně 2;  I. neurologická klinika LF MU a ICRC, FN u sv. Anny, Brno 3;  Neurochirurgická klinika 1. LF UK a ÚVN Praha 4
Published in: Cesk Slov Neurol N 2013; 76/109(1): 52-55
Category: Original Paper


Neuropsychiatric disorders are frequent in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as indicated by cross-sectional studies. Depression is the most frequent disorder in MCI patients and its presence increases the risk of conversion into Alzheimer’s disease. Two systems are responsible for neuropsychiatric disorders: the limbic system and fronto-subcortical connections. The structures involved in these systems are also responsible for emotion processing.

The aim of the study was to establish whether MCI patients have a deficit in emotion recognition and whether they have more severe depression than a control group and to assess the relationship between severity of depression and the ability to recognize emotions from facial expression.

Patients and methods:
The study included 34 MCI patients and 23 controls. All subjects underwent routine neuropsychological testing (focused on memory, attention and speed of processing, executive, visuospatial and language functions). Emotional agnosia was examined by Facial Emotion Recognition Test and depression was assessed by geriatric depression scale.

MCI group performed worse than controls on recognition of facial emotions (p < 0.05), and this group was also significantly more depressive than controls (p < 0.05). No significant correlation was found between severity of depression and total emotion recognition (r = 0.15, p = 0.28). Severity of depression correlated with inability to recognize happiness (p < 0.05, r = –0.32).

The ability to recognize emotions from facial expression is impaired in MCI patients and severity of depression contributes to inability of MCI patients to recognize happiness.

Key words:
depression – facial expression – recognition of emotions – mild cognitive impairment – Alzheimer disease

The authors declare they have no potential conflicts of interest concerning drugs, products, or services used in the study.

The Editorial Board declares that the manu­script met the ICMJE “uniform requirements” for biomedical papers.


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