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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2010, Article ID 930627, 5 pages
Research Article

Facial Emotion Recognition Impairment in Patients with Parkinson's Disease and Isolated Apathy

Movement Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Sant Pau Hospital, Sant Pau Institute of Biomedical Research (IIB-Sant Pau), Autonomous University of Barcelona and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red-Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Sant Antoni M. Claret 167, 08025 Barcelona, Spain

Received 20 November 2009; Revised 11 May 2010; Accepted 28 June 2010

Academic Editor: David J. Brooks

Copyright © 2010 Mercè Martínez-Corral 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.


Apathy is a frequent feature of Parkinson's disease (PD), usually related with executive dysfunction. However, in a subgroup of PD patients apathy may represent the only or predominant neuropsychiatric feature. To understand the mechanisms underlying apathy in PD, we investigated emotional processing in PD patients with and without apathy and in healthy controls (HC), assessed by a facial emotion recognition task (FERT). We excluded PD patients with cognitive impairment, depression, other affective disturbances and previous surgery for PD. PD patients with apathy scored significantly worse in the FERT, performing worse in fear, anger, and sadness recognition. No differences, however, were found between nonapathetic PD patients and HC. These findings suggest the existence of a disruption of emotional-affective processing in cognitive preserved PD patients with apathy. To identify specific dysfunction of limbic structures in PD, patients with isolated apathy may have therapeutic and prognostic implications.