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 frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients may at least partially be the result of an impairment in social understanding. The present study was thus designed to investigate the possible presence of defective social understanding ability in a small group encompassing both FTD and AD patients. Material and methods: Small groups of dementia patients (n = 12) and matched healthy controls (n = 15) underwent standard clinical, neurological and neuropsychological assessments. Then, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test and a validated story completion task encompassing both social and non-social stereotyped situations was administered to all of the participants. Results: Dementia patients' performances on both the tasks proposed were worse than healthy controls' performances. Interestingly, both the non-social and the social parts of the story completion task were significantly impaired, but with the social part being more compromised. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest the presence of patients' significant difficulties in attributing mental states to others appropriately and interpreting properly stories that explicitly referred to social situations. Our results underline the needs for further research to gain a deeper understanding on the possible link between patients' behavioural problems and their social understanding impairment.

The comprehension of social situations in a small group of patients with frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease

CAVALLO, MARCO;
2011

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 frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients may at least partially be the result of an impairment in social understanding. The present study was thus designed to investigate the possible presence of defective social understanding ability in a small group encompassing both FTD and AD patients. Material and methods: Small groups of dementia patients (n = 12) and matched healthy controls (n = 15) underwent standard clinical, neurological and neuropsychological assessments. Then, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test and a validated story completion task encompassing both social and non-social stereotyped situations was administered to all of the participants. Results: Dementia patients' performances on both the tasks proposed were worse than healthy controls' performances. Interestingly, both the non-social and the social parts of the story completion task were significantly impaired, but with the social part being more compromised. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest the presence of patients' significant difficulties in attributing mental states to others appropriately and interpreting properly stories that explicitly referred to social situations. Our results underline the needs for further research to gain a deeper understanding on the possible link between patients' behavioural problems 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/11389/9678
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