Navigation Links
Alzheimer's Patients Mimic Emotions of Those Around Them: Study

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- People with Alzheimer's disease or early thinking and memory problems tend to mirror the emotions of those around them, researchers find.

This transfer of emotions, known as emotional contagion, appears heightened in people with Alzheimer's and related mental decline, according to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) team. And it can be important in the management of these patients, they added.

"Calm begets calm," said Dr. Sam Gandy, associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in New York City, who was not involved in the study.

Emotional contagion is a rudimentary form of empathy, enabling people to share and experience other people's emotions, said lead researcher Virginia Sturm, an assistant professor in the UCSF department of neurology.

"It's a way by which emotions travel across people quickly and even without awareness," explained Sturm. This process can shape behaviors and cause changes in the brain, she added.

In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and in people with mild thinking and memory problems, emotional contagion increases, the researchers found. It is even more apparent in people with dementia, they noted.

"In Alzheimer's disease and other dementia we think some people may have an increased sensitivity to other people's emotions," Sturm said.

"As their memory and thinking abilities decline, it seems this is accompanied by the enhancement of other emotional processes," she said.

This means that if caregivers are anxious or angry, their patients will pick up and copy these emotions.

On the other hand, if the caregiver is calm and happy, patients will emulate these positive emotions, Sturm said.

"This is a way Alzheimer's patients connect with others, even though they don't have an understanding of the social situation," she said. "In order to manage patients, it might be that the caregivers being calm and happy would go a long way in keeping their patient calm and happy."

Alzheimer's disease is an age-related brain disorder that begins slowly and gradually robs people of their ability to lead their everyday lives. In the United States, one-third of the nation's seniors die with Alzheimer's or another type of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

The study, published online May 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved 237 adults. Sixty-two patients had mild memory and thinking problems and 64 had Alzheimer's disease. The others were mentally healthy.

Participants took tests to identify depression and other mental health problems and also underwent MRI scans to identify changes in the brain related to emotional contagion.

The researchers found higher emotional contagion in those with mild mental impairment and Alzheimer's disease, compared with those who did not have these conditions.

This growth of emotional contagion paralleled the increase in damage to the right temporal lobe of the brain, reflecting biological changes in the neural system, the study found.

"The right temporal lobe is important for different aspects of emotion and social behavior," Sturm said.

Depression was also greater among those with mild mental impairment and Alzheimer's disease, the study found.

From a neurologist's perspective, "it is extraordinary that something so complex as emotional perception can be controlled by such a localized part of the brain," Gandy said.

"Also, classically it has been the frontal lobe damage that leads to emotional disturbance," Gandy added. "Now we know the temporal lobes can play similar roles."

More information

For more information on Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.

SOURCES: Virginia Sturm, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of neurology, University of California, San Francisco; Sam Gandy, M.D., associate director, Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, New York City; May 27, 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online

Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Immunoglobulins Market to 2019 - Demand in Primary Immunodeficiency And CIDP Potentially Supplemented by Approval for Alzheimers Disease Available at
2. Higher-spending hospitals have fewer deaths for emergency patients
3. Researchers uncover a viable way for colorectal cancer patients to overcome drug resistance
4. Vaccine yielded encouraging long-term survival rates in certain patients with NSCLC
5. Study finds doctors have exaggerated fears when starting patients on insulin
6. Diagnostic Scans Tied to Radiation Risk for Gastro Patients
7. Predictors identified for rehospitalization among post-acute stroke patients
8. Pulse pressure elevation could presage cerebrovascular disease in Alzheimers patients
9. Breast cancer patients suffer treatment-related side effects long after completing care
10. Heart failure patients with diabetes may benefit from higher glucose levels
11. Gastro Woes Often Strike Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Alzheimer's Patients Mimic Emotions of Those Around Them: Study
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... The Foundation ... cancer education and prevention—is joining forces with the award-winning creator and writer of ... on December 7, 2015 at the Union League of Philadelphia. , The ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... While powdered supplements and drinks can reduce food preparation ... from Chesterfield, Va., has found an easy to keep track of the scoop. , ... powdered contents in a canister or other container handy and readily accessible. As such, ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Since ... websites specializing in independent living, assisted living and all other retirement options. Support ... awareness and research remains a top priority. , So it’s no ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... The successful filing of an Investigational New ... is so important to this key industry segment, Regis Technologies has decided to sponsor ... December 4th at 11am EST. , Federal law does not allow new drugs to ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... SIMmersion’s ability ... to the medical schools of the future. To reach an audience of key ... 2015 ChangeMedEd conference in Chicago, organized by the American Medical Association. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015   Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG ... first MRI guided user interface and automatic scan parameter ... MR Conditional implants, such as knee and hip replacements, ... Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA) . The ... confidence of this growing patient population. ScanWise Implant adds ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... PUNE, India , November 30, 2015 ... in 2014, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of ... was valued at USD 135.6 million in 2014, and ... to 2020. --> According to the new Market Research ... Minimally invasive, non-invasive), By End User (Hospitals, ambulatory care, others) - ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... the Six Months Ended 30 September 2015 2014RestatedChange%Turnover 545,575 , 518,852 ... , 384,242 , 9.8 Hospital Management ... , (18.3) Medical Insurance Administration Service Income , ... Medical Devices and Accessories Sales , 89,645 , ... 2,822 , 2,917 , (3.3) ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: