Alzheimer's Patients Have Muted Emotions

GAINESVILLE, Fla., July 9 (UPI) — Alzheimer’s patients may have a decreased ability to experience emotions compared to healthy peers, U.S. researchers said.

Senior author Dr. Kenneth Heilman, a professor of neurology at the College of Medicine and University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute, said Alzheimer’s patients, when asked to place an emotional value on pictures, measure pleasant images as less pleasant and negative scenes as less negative compared with a control group of elderly people without Alzheimer’s disease.

However, this emotional flatness could be incorrectly interpreted as a symptom of depression, Heilman said.

“We found that the Alzheimer’s patients as a rule tend to go more toward the middle,” Heilman said in a statement. “They don’t feel as positive toward the positive pictures or as negative toward the negative ones. They’re not depressed, but their emotional experience appears to be flattened.”

Further research is needed, but the findings could be insightful for physicians trying to learn whether a patient is depressed, as well as for families concerned about a loved one’s apparent indifference, the researchers said.

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