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Assessing the “social brain” in dementia: Applying TASIT-S

Kumfor, F, Honan, C ORCID: 0000-0001-5735-4270, McDonald, S, Hazelton, JL, Hodges, JR and Piguet, O 2017 , 'Assessing the “social brain” in dementia: Applying TASIT-S' , Cortex, vol. 93 , pp. 166-177 , doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.05.022.

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The ability to recognise how other people are feeling and make judgements based on theirinferred thoughts is essential for successful social interactions, and is thought to dependon a complex network of brain regions, commonly referred to as the “social brain”. Theseabilities, together referred to as social cognition, are increasingly recognised as beingcompromised in some dementia syndromes, particularly in behavioural-variant frontotemporaldementia (bvFTD), which is characterised by changes in personality and socialconduct. Whether social cognition is impaired in other dementia syndromes, such asAlzheimer's disease (AD), or whether lower performance reflects general cognitiveimpairment, is less well established. Furthermore, ecologically valid tests with knownneurobiological correlates are currently lacking. Here, we investigated performance on anewly devised short version of The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT-S) andassociated neural correlates in 25 bvFTD patients, 23 AD patients and 25 healthy controls.On Part 1-Emotion Evaluation, only bvFTD were impaired (p ¼ .033) (AD vs. controls:p ¼ .475) after controlling for cognitive impairment and education. On Part 2-Social Inference,both bvFTD and AD showed intact ability to interpret sincere exchanges (pvalues > .05). Importantly, however, bvFTD patients were impaired in interpreting sarcasm(p ¼ .008), whereas AD performed within normal limits (p ¼ .477). Voxel-basedmorphometry analyses demonstrated correlations between TASIT-S Part 1 performanceand integrity of emotion processing brain regions (amygdala, insula, fusiform) and Part 2performance with theory of mind brain regions (precuneus, temporal pole). These resultsdemonstrate the utility of TASIT-S in identifying social cognition impairment in dementiaand reveal that TASIT-S taps into integrity of key regions within the “social brain”

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Kumfor, F and Honan, C and McDonald, S and Hazelton, JL and Hodges, JR and Piguet, O
Keywords: Frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Emotion, Neuroimaging, Social cognition
Journal or Publication Title: Cortex
Publisher: Masson Divisione Periodici
ISSN: 0010-9452
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.05.022
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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