Thinking versus feeling: How interoception and cognition influence emotion recognition in behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease

Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior

Cortex. 2023 Jun;163:66-79. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2023.02.009. Epub 2023 Mar 23.


Disease-specific mechanisms underlying emotion recognition difficulties in behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and Parkinson's disease (PD) are unknown. Interoceptive accuracy, accurately detecting internal cues (e.g., one's heart beating), and cognitive abilities are candidate mechanisms underlying emotion recognition. One hundred and sixty-eight participants (52 bvFTD; 41 AD; 24 PD; 51 controls) were recruited. Emotion recognition was measured via the Facial Affect Selection Task or the Mini-Social and Emotional Assessment Emotion Recognition Task. Interoception was assessed with a heartbeat detection task. Participants pressed a button each time they: 1) felt their heartbeat (Interoception); or 2) heard a recorded heartbeat (Exteroception-control). Cognition was measured via the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination-III or the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Voxel-based morphometry analyses identified neural correlates associated with emotion recognition and interoceptive accuracy. All patient groups showed worse emotion recognition and cognition than controls (all P's ≤ .008). Only the bvFTD showed worse interoceptive accuracy than controls (P < .001). Regression analyses revealed that in bvFTD worse interoceptive accuracy predicted worse emotion recognition (P = .008). Whereas worse cognition predicted worse emotion recognition overall (P < .001). Neuroimaging analyses revealed that the insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and amygdala were involved in emotion recognition and interoceptive accuracy in bvFTD. Here, we provide evidence for disease-specific mechanisms for emotion recognition difficulties. In bvFTD, emotion recognition impairment is driven by inaccurate perception of the internal milieu. Whereas, in AD and PD, cognitive impairment likely underlies emotion recognition deficits. The current study furthers our theoretical understanding of emotion and highlights the need for targeted interventions.

PMID:37075507 | DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2023.02.009