Name that Emotion

Patients with Parkinson's disease find it difficult to recognize emotional expression in others

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with Parkinson's disease find it more difficult to gauge and recognize expressions of emotion in other people's faces and voices, according to new research.

This is why many Parkinson's patients may feel socially awkward, according to a meta-analysis from Harvard University and Tufts University, which looked at 34 different studies culling data from 1,295 patients. The findings suggest a strong link between Parkinson's and specific deficits in recognizing emotions, especially negative emotions, in others. These patients typically had some trouble identifying emotion based on facial expression and voices.

Another study has also revealed deep-brain stimulation (DBS) therapy (often administered to Parkinson's patients when medication doesn't effectively control symptoms) resulted in a consistently decreased ability to recognize fear and sadness, key expressions that aid survival.

Parkinson's disease predisposes patients to errors in emotion recognition, said study author Heather Gray, PhD, and deep-brain stimulation treatment results in an even more severe deficit.

Study authors suggest education for patients and those close to them about the potential for emotion-recognition deficits, DBS, and training to help patients navigate and possibly overcome these impairments.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 18, 2011
Last Updated:
January 19, 2011