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Recognition of Positive Vocalizations Is Impaired in Behavioral-Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

  • Sharpley Hsieh (a1) (a2), John R Hodges (a1) (a2) and Olivier Piguet (a1) (a2)


Recognition of negative emotions is impaired in behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Less is known about the identification of positive emotions. One limitation likely arises from the stimulus sets used in previous studies. The widely used Ekman 60 Faces Test, for example, consists of four negative emotions (anger, fear, disgust and sadness) but only one positive emotion (happiness). Here, patients with bvFTD (n = 9), AD (n = 9), and controls (n = 15) recognized a range of experimentally-validated positive and negative non-verbal vocalizations (e.g., cheers for triumph; retching for disgust) that have recently become available. The bvFTD group was impaired in the recognition of both positive and negative vocalizations. In contrast, performance in the AD cohort was comparable to that of controls. Findings in the bvFTD group point to a global emotion recognition deficit in this syndrome. These results are consistent with a growing body of research showing that deficits also extend to positive emotions. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–5)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Olivier Piguet, Neuroscience Research Australia, PO Box 1165, Randwick, NSW, 2031. E-mail:


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