Emotional curiosity: modulation of visuospatial attention by arousal is preserved in aging and early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
Previous studies have shown that Alzheimer's disease, even in its early stages, decreases novelty-seeking behaviors (curiosity) and impairs the shifting of spatial attention to extrapersonal targets. In this study, early-stage probable Alzheimer's disease patients (PRAD) and young and aging controls were shown pairs of visual scenes, some of which contained emotionally-arousing material, while eye movements were recorded under free viewing conditions. In all three subject groups, emotionally-arousing scenes attracted more viewing time and also became the preferential target of the initial visual orientation. Our findings suggest that the arousing properties of sensory stimuli may overcome some of the AD-related impairments in the distribution of attention to extrapersonal targets. These results may have implications for interventions aimed at improving the cognitive symptoms of PRAD.
LaBar, KS; Mesulam, M; Gitelman, DR; Weintraub, S
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