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Journal of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 854643, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/854643
Clinical Study

Evaluative Conditioning with Facial Stimuli in Dementia Patients

1Department of Psychology-Gerontopsychology, University of Zürich, Binzmühlestrasse 14/24, 8050 Zürich, Switzerland
2Psychiatric Clinic of Müensterlingen, P.O. Box 154, 8596 Müensterlingen, Switzerland
3Department of Psychology-Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology, University of Konstanz, P.O. Box 23/25, 78457 Konstanz, Germany

Received 18 April 2012; Revised 5 July 2012; Accepted 27 July 2012

Academic Editor: Irena Rektorova

Copyright © 2013 Andreas Blessing et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We present results of a study investigating evaluative learning in dementia patients with a classic evaluative conditioning paradigm. Picture pairs of three unfamiliar faces with liked, disliked, or neutral faces, that were rated prior to the presentation, were presented 10 times each to a group of dementia patients (N = 15) and healthy controls (N = 14) in random order. Valence ratings of all faces were assessed before and after presentation. In contrast to controls, dementia patients changed their valence ratings of unfamiliar faces according to their pairing with either a liked or disliked face, although they were not able to explicitly assign the picture pairs after the presentation. Our finding suggests preserved evaluative conditioning in dementia patients. However, the result has to be considered preliminary, as it is unclear which factors prevented the predicted rating changes in the expected direction in the control group.