University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain
| [b] Department of Research and Development, Iberian Research Psycho-sciences Institute, INTRAS Foundation, Zamora, Spain
| [c] Department of Neurology, Burgos University Hospital, Spain
| [d] School of Dementia Studies, University of Bradford, UK
| [e] Department of Research, Burgos University Hospital, Spain
| [f] Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Zamora Regional Hospital, Spain
Correspondence to: J. Antonio García Casal, Carretera de la Hiniesta 137, 49024, Zamora, Spain. Tel.:
+34 608 768 553; Fax: +34 980 557 104; E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: Background: The ability to recognize emotional expression is essential for social interactions, adapting to the environment, and quality of life. Emotion recognition is impaired in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), thus rehabilitation of these skills has the potential to elicit significant benefits. Objective: This study sought to establish whether emotion recognition capacity could be rehabilitated in people with AD. Methods: Thirty-six participants with AD were assigned to one of three conditions: an experimental group (EG) that received 20 sessions of rehabilitation of emotion recognition and 20 sessions of cognitive stimulation therapy (CST), a control group (CG) that received 40 sessions of CST, and a treatment as usual group (TAU). Results: A positive treatment effect favoring the EG was found; participants were better able to correctly identify emotions (p = 0.021), made fewer errors of commission (p = 0.002), had greater precision of processing (p = 0.021), and faster processing speed (p = 0.001). Specifically, the EG were better able to identify sadness (p = 0.016), disgust (p = 0.005), and the neutral expression (p = 0.014), with quicker processing speed for disgust (p = 0.002). These gains were maintained at one month follow-up with the exception of processing speed for surprise, which improved. Conclusion: Capacity to recognize facial expressions of emotions can be improved through specific rehabilitation in people with AD, and gains are still present at a one month follow up. These findings have implications for the design of rehabilitation techniques for people with AD that may lead to improved quality of life and social interactions for this population.