Affective and cognitive theory of mind in patients with cervical dystonia with and without tremor

Giovanna Lagravinese, Gabriella Santangelo, Gaia Bonassi, Sofia Cuoco, Roberta Marchese, Francesca Di Biasio, Roberto Erro, Elisa Pelosin, Laura Avanzino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theory of mind (ToM) refers to an individual's ability to attribute mental states to predict and explain another person's behavior. It has been shown that patients with cervical dystonia (CD) present impaired ToM ability supporting the idea that CD is a network disorder. An emerging hypothesis is that different phenotypes of CD reflect distinct key nodes in the malfunctioning cerebral network. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the presence of tremor as additional phenotypic feature of CD influences the ability to attribute a cognitive or emotional state to another person. We enrolled 35 patients with CD, 21 with tremor (CD-T) and 14 without tremor (CD-NT) and 47 age-matched healthy subjects (HS). The Emotion Attribution Task (EAT) was adopted to assess the affective ToM ability while the Advanced Test (AT) was used to investigate the cognitive ToM ability. Results showed that CD patients’ performance was worse than HS in recognizing the emotional feelings expressed in the EAT situations, with no difference between CD-T and CD-NT. Regarding cognitive ToM, both CD-T and CD-NT performed worse than HS in the AT task. However, it also emerged that CD-T were more impaired in AT task than CD-NT. Our results indicate that both affective and cognitive aspects of ToM are impaired in CD and that cognitive ToM is more impaired in patients presenting tremor respect to those without. These findings support the hypothesis that the cerebral network responsible of motor and non-motor impairments is more widespread in CD-T than CD-NT.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Cerebellum
  • Dystonia
  • Theory of mind
  • Tremor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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