In addition to motor symptoms, Parkinson's disease (PD) involves significant non-motor sequelae, including disruptions in cognitive and emotional processing. Fear recognition appears to be affected both by the course of the disease and by a common interventional therapy, deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS). Here, we examined if these effects extend to other aspects of emotional processing, such as attentional capture by negative emotional stimuli. Performance on an emotional attentional blink (EAB) paradigm, a common paradigm used to study emotional capture of attention, was examined in a cohort of individuals with PD, both on and off STN-DBS therapy (n=20). To contrast effects of healthy aging and other movement disorder and DBS targets, we also examined performance in a healthy elderly (n=20) and young (n=18) sample on the same task, and a sample diagnosed with Essential Tremor (ET) undergoing therapeutic deep brain stimulation of the ventral-intermediate nucleus (VIM-DBS, n=18). All four groups showed a robust attentional capture of emotional stimuli, irrespective of aging processes, movement disorder diagnosis, or stimulation. PD patients on average had overall worse performance, but this decrement in performance was not related to the emotional capture of attention. PD patients exhibited a robust EAB, indicating that the ability of emotion to direct attention remains intact in PD. Congruent with other recent data, these findings suggest that fear recognition deficits in PD may instead reflect a highly specific problem in recognition, rather than a general deficit in emotional processing of fearful stimuli.
Camalier, C. R., Neimat, J. S., McHugo, M., & Zald, D. H. (2018). The Effect of Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy on Fear-Related Capture of Attention in Parkinson’ s Disease and Essential Tremor: A Comparison to Healthy Individuals. Journal of Neurological Disorders, 06(01). https://doi.org/10.4172/2329-6895.1000377