Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multisystem condition, in which executive and/or behavioural symptoms can occur. Deficits of social cognition, including defective cognitive and emotional empathy, have been recently reported in ALS subjects. The neurostructural correlates of these disorders in ALS are still unknown. The aims of this study were to evaluate two components of empathy in non-demented ALS subjects, and to associate performance with regional grey-matter density using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). Twenty non-demented sporadic probable or definite ALS patients and 56 matched healthy controls (HC) participated in a non-verbal task requiring the attribution of emotional versus cognitive states to identify the correct ending of comic strips, compared with a control condition requiring identifying causal relationships devoid of social components. A subgroup of 14 ALS and 20 HC joined the VBM study. Results demonstrated that, compared with controls, ALS patients showed defective emotional empathy attribution, related with reduced grey-matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex and right inferior frontal gyrus. Our study provided evidence of a specific impairment of emotional empathy in ALS patients, reflecting neural damage in a limbic prefrontal network involved in emotional processing. Social cognition disorders may represent a marker of cognitive dysfunction in ALS.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
- Anterior cingulate cortex
- Social cognition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology