Emotion Recognition in Mild Cognitive Impairment: Relationship to Psychosocial Disability and Caregiver Burden

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Impaired emotion recognition in dementia is associated with increased patient agitation, behavior management difficulties, and caregiver burden. Emerging evidence supports the presence of very early emotion recognition difficulties in mild cognitive impairment (MCI); however, the relationship between these impairments and psychosocial measures is not yet explored.


Emotion recognition abilities of 27 patients with nonamnestic MCI (naMCI), 29 patients with amnestic MCI (aMCI), and 22 control participants were assessed. Self-report measures assessed patient functional disability, while informants rated the degree of burden they experienced.


Difficulties in recognizing anger was evident in the amnestic subtype. Although both the patient groups reported greater social functioning disability, compared with the controls, a relationship between social dysfunction and anger recognition was evident only for patients with naMCI. A significant association was found between burden and anger recognition in patients with aMCI.


Impaired emotion recognition abilities impact MCI subtypes differentially. Interventions targeted at patients with MCI, and caregivers are warranted.

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