59 research outputs found

    Deep Brain Stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus does not negatively affect social cognitive abilities of patients with Parkinson's disease

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    Abstract Bilateral deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a treatment option for patients with advanced idiopathic PD successful at alleviating disabling motor symptoms. Nevertheless, the effects of STN-DBS on cognitive functions remain controversial and few studies have investigated modification of social cognitive abilities in patients with PD treated with STN-DBS. Here we expanded the typically-investigated spectrum of these abilities by simultaneously examining emotion recognition, and both affective and cognitive Theory of Mind (ToM). By means of a cross-sectional study, 20 patients with PD under dopaminergic replacement therapy, 18 patients with PD treated with STN-DBS, and 20 healthy controls performed the Ekman 60-Faces test, the full version of the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test, and the Protocol for the Attribution of Communicative Intentions. There were no differences between the PD groups (treated and not treated with STN-DBS) on any of the social cognitive tests. Our results suggest that patients with PD who are treated with STN-DBS do not experience detrimental effects on their social cognitive abilities. The present study, the first one examining a wide spectrum of social cognitive abilities after DBS of the STN, suggests that this surgical procedure can be considered safe from this standpoint

    Evidence of Social Understanding Impairment in Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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    The present study aims at clarifying the nature of the Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). ToM is the ability to attribute mental states such as intentions and beliefs to others in order to understand and predict their behaviour and to behave accordingly. Several neuroimaging studies reported the prefrontal cortices as the brain region underlying a key ToM ability, i.e. the comprehension of social intentions. Dysfunction of the prefrontal cortices in patients with ALS has been indicated by a range of neuroimaging studies. The frontal syndrome that appears to characterize up to 50% of ALS has been noted to be similar to the profile that characterizes patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a neurodegenerative condition characterised by ToM deficits. In the present paper, we hypothesize that the performance of patients with ALS is significantly worse than healthy controls' performance on tasks requiring the comprehension of social contexts, whereas patients' performance is comparable to healthy controls' performance on tasks not requiring the comprehension of social contexts. To this end, we tested 15 patients with ALS with an experimental protocol that distinguishes between private (non-social) intentions and social intentions. The pattern of results followed the experimental hypothesis: the performance of patients with ALS and healthy controls significantly differed on the comprehension of social context only, with an impairment in patients with ALS. Single case analysis confirmed the findings at an individual level. The present study is the first which has examined and compared the understanding of social and non-social contexts in patients with ALS and shown a specific and selective deficit in the former only. The current findings further support the notion of a continuum of cognitive dysfunction ranging from ALS to FTD, with parallel cognitive profiles in both disorders

    Effective connectivity gateways to the Theory of Mind network in processing communicative intention

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    An Intention Processing Network (IPN), involving the medial prefrontal cortex, precuneus, bilateral posterior superior temporal sulcus, and temporoparietal junctions, plays a fundamental role in comprehending intentions underlying action goals. In a previous fMRI study, we showed that, depending on the linguistic or extralinguistic (gestural) modality used to convey the intention, the IPN is complemented by activation of additional brain areas, reflecting distinct modality-specific input gateways to the IPN. These areas involve, for the linguistic modality, the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG), and for the extralinguistic modality, the right inferior frontal gyrus (RIFG). Here, we tested the modality-specific gateway hypothesis, by using DCM to measure inter-regional functional integration dynamics between the IPN and LIFG/RIFG gateways. We found strong evidence of a well-defined effective connectivity architecture mediating the functional integration between the IPN and the inferior frontal cortices. The connectivity dynamics indicate a modality-specific propagation of stimulus information from LIFG to IPN for the linguistic modality, and from RIFG to IPN for the extralinguistic modality. Thus, we suggest a functional model in which the modality-specific gateways mediate the structural and semantic decoding of the stimuli, and allow for the modality-specific communicative information to be integrated in Theory of Mind inferences elaborated through the IPN
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