Microstructural white matter correlates of emotion recognition impairment in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Chiara Crespi, Chiara Cerami, Alessandra Dodich, Nicola Canessa, Marta Arpone, Sandro Iannaccone, Massimo Corbo, Christian Lunetta, Elisa Scola, Andrea Falini, Stefano F. Cappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is associated in about half of the cases with behavioral and cognitive disorders, including impairments in socio-emotional processing, considered as key-features for the diagnosis of the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bv-FTD). The neurostructural bases of emotional deficits in ALS, however, still remain largely unexplored. Here we aim to assess emotion recognition in non-demented sporadic ALS patients compared with healthy controls, and to explore for the first time its microstructural white-matter correlates. Twenty-two subjects with either probable or definite diagnosis of ALS and 55 age-, gender-, and education-matched healthy controls were recruited in the study. All participants performed the Ekman 60-Faces Test, assessing the recognition of six basic emotions (i.e., anger, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise and happiness). A subgroup of subjects, comprising 19 patients and 20 healthy controls, also underwent a Diffusion Tensor Imaging scanning. Behavioral analysis highlighted a significant decline of emotion recognition skills in patients compared to controls, particularly affecting the identification of negative emotions. Moreover, the Diffusion Tensor Imaging analyses revealed a correlation between this impairment and the alteration of white-matter integrity along the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus. Our findings indicate the presence of an early emotion recognition deficit in non-demented sporadic ALS patients, associated with microstructural changes in ventral associative bundles connecting occipital, temporo-limbic and orbitofrontal regions in the right hemisphere. These changes may represent a frontotemporal-limbic microstructural marker of socio-emotional impairment in ALS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • ALS-FTD continuum hypothesis
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Emotion recognition impairment
  • Inferior Longitudinal Fasciculus and Inferior Fronto-occipital Fasciculus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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