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


Kumfor, F and Honan, C and McDonald, S and Hazelton, JL and Hodges, JR and Piguet, O, Assessing the 'social brain' in dementia: Applying TASIT-S, Cortex, 93 pp. 166-177. ISSN 0010-9452 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2017.05.022


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

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer's disease, emotion, neuroimaging, social cognition
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Honan, C (Dr Cynthia Honan)
ID Code:117905
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2017-06-29
Last Modified:2018-07-25

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