Recognition memory for emotional pictures in Alzheimer’s patients


O. F. A. Bueno Department of Psychobiology, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP-EPM), Rua Napoleão de Barros, 925, CEP 04024 002, São Paulo, SP, Brazil Tel.: (5511) 5539 0155 Fax: (5511) 5572 5092 e-mail:


Objective– The purpose of the present study was to examine whether Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients can benefit from the emotional content of visual stimuli in a picture recognition test. Method– Sixteen patients with AD and 19 normal controls matched for age and years of education, were studied. Sixteen pictures (with varying emotional contents) were presented to each participant. Thirty minutes later, a recognition test was applied with the target-pictures mixed among 34 others of similar content. The subjects were instructed to rate them as pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent. Results– The total of pictures correctly recognized by the AD patients (75.4% of the target-pictures) was smaller than that of the controls (96.4%). Controls recognized more emotional pictures than indifferent pictures. Conclusions– Emotional content enhanced recognition of pictures in normal subjects, whereas for the Alzheimer’s subjects the emotional significance attached to the pictures was of no benefit to enhance recognition.