Background: 'Social understanding' refers to the everyday-life complex ability of interpreting social situations properly. It has been recently proposed that the severe social and behavioural problems that often characterize neurodegenerative diseases such as dementias and motor neurone disease (MND) may at least partially be the result of a significant impairment in 'social understanding'. Aims: To investigate in two separate studies whether dementia and motor neurone diseases patients showed the presence of defective 'social understanding' ability. Methods: Two groups of dementia patients (n = 10) and MND (n = 9), recruited in Italy and Scotland respectively, underwent standard neurological and neuropsychological assessment. Two groups of matched healthy controls (n = 15) and (n = 10) were selected too. Then, a validated comic strip task encompassing both "social" and "non-social" stereotyped situations was administered to all of the participants in both studies. Results: Dementia patients performed poorly on the comic strip task, compared with healthy controls. More precisely, their performance on both the "non-social" and the "social" parts of the comic strip task were significantly impaired, but with the "social" part appearing to be more compromised. On the other hand, MND patients performed well on the "non-social" part of the comic strip task, but interestingly their performance on the "social" part was significantly poor, compared with healthy controls. Discussion: These preliminary findings suggest the presence in these neurodegenerative conditions of a more severe difficulty in interpreting and understanding properly those stories that explicitly referred to social situations (i.e. "social" stories), compared with those stories that did not refer explicitly to social situations (i.e. "non-social" stories). Thus, our studies showed for the first time evidence for the presence of specific 'social understanding' problems associated with both these neurodegenerative conditions, and underlined the necessity of further research in order to gain a deeper understanding on the possible link between the behavioural/social problems typically showed by the patients and their 'social understanding' impairment.

Knowing how to behave properly: Preliminary evidence of defective 'social understanding' in neurodegenerative diseases.

CAVALLO, MARCO;
2009

Abstract

Background: 'Social understanding' refers to the everyday-life complex ability of interpreting social situations properly. It has been recently proposed that the severe social and behavioural problems that often characterize neurodegenerative diseases such as dementias and motor neurone disease (MND) may at least partially be the result of a significant impairment in 'social understanding'. Aims: To investigate in two separate studies whether dementia and motor neurone diseases patients showed the presence of defective 'social understanding' ability. Methods: Two groups of dementia patients (n = 10) and MND (n = 9), recruited in Italy and Scotland respectively, underwent standard neurological and neuropsychological assessment. Two groups of matched healthy controls (n = 15) and (n = 10) were selected too. Then, a validated comic strip task encompassing both "social" and "non-social" stereotyped situations was administered to all of the participants in both studies. Results: Dementia patients performed poorly on the comic strip task, compared with healthy controls. More precisely, their performance on both the "non-social" and the "social" parts of the comic strip task were significantly impaired, but with the "social" part appearing to be more compromised. On the other hand, MND patients performed well on the "non-social" part of the comic strip task, but interestingly their performance on the "social" part was significantly poor, compared with healthy controls. Discussion: These preliminary findings suggest the presence in these neurodegenerative conditions of a more severe difficulty in interpreting and understanding properly those stories that explicitly referred to social situations (i.e. "social" stories), compared with those stories that did not refer explicitly to social situations (i.e. "non-social" stories). Thus, our studies showed for the first time evidence for the presence of specific 'social understanding' problems associated with both these neurodegenerative conditions, and underlined the necessity of further research in order to gain a deeper understanding on the possible link between the behavioural/social problems typically showed by the patients and their 'social understanding' impairment.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11389/10391
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