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article imageAlzheimer's patients feel emotion after memories vanish

By Sravanth Verma     Oct 7, 2014 in Health
A new study says that Alzheimer's patients continue to feel emotion associated with events even after they have forgotten those specific happenings.
The study by academics in the Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, was published in the journal Cognitive and Behavioural Neurology. The researchers worked with 17 Alzheimer’s patients and 17 healthy participants who were the control group. Both groups watched 20 minutes of sad and then happy movies. The study notes that the movies triggered the appropriate emotions of sadness and happiness in participants of both groups.
However, when researchers gave the participants a memory test five minutes after watching the movies, the Alzheimer's patients as expected could remember much less of the movies. Four of them were unable to recall anything about the movies, and could not recall even watching the film.
The interesting aspect was that when the participants answered questions to gauge their feelings, Alzheimer’s patients reported feeling elevated levels of sadness or happiness up to half an hour after watching the films, though they had either poor or no memory of the films themselves. In fact, the less the patients remembered, the longer the emotions lasted. The fact that emotions could outlast memories could change the methodology of treatments for Alzheimer's.
One patient in the study said: "I feel like all my emotions and feelings are rushing in on me. It’s extremely confusing and I do not like that feeling.” The authors said: "The persistence of this patient’s intense negative emotion and her inability to conjure up a logical explanation for the cause of her feelings illustrate the bewilderment that a patient with Alzheimer's disease may experience in the face of an apparently inexplicable feeling."
Lead author Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez said, "actions may have a lasting impact on how the patients feel. Older adults in nursing homes and patients with AD can be victims of both verbal and physical mistreatment by staff or caregivers." Hopefully, the study will lead to new standards and awareness on the standard of care in nursing homes and facilities for Alzheimer's patients.
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