Hemispheric asymmetries and prosodic emotion recognition deficits in Parkinson's disease

Maria I. Ventura, Kathleen Baynes, Karen A. Sigvardt, April M. Unruh, Sarah S. Acklin, Heidi E. Kirsch, Elizabeth Disbrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


While Parkinson's disease (PD) has traditionally been described as a movement disorder, there is growing evidence of cognitive and social deficits associated with the disease. However, few studies have looked at multi-modal social cognitive deficits in patients with PD. We studied lateralization of both prosodic and facial emotion recognition (the ability to recognize emotional valence from either tone of voice or from facial expressions) in PD. The Comprehensive Affect Testing System (CATS) is a well-validated test of human emotion processing that has been used to study emotion recognition in several major clinical populations, but never before in PD. We administered an abbreviated version of CATS (CATS-A) to 24 medicated PD participants and 12 age-matched controls. PD participants were divided into two groups, based on side of symptom onset and unilateral motor symptom severity: left-affected (N=12) or right-affected PD participants (N=12). CATS-A is a computer-based button press task with eight subtests relevant to prosodic and facial emotion recognition. Left-affected PD participants with inferred predominant right-hemisphere pathology were expected to have difficulty with prosodic emotion recognition since there is evidence that the processing of prosodic information is right-hemisphere dominant. We found that facial emotion recognition was preserved in the PD group, however, left-affected PD participants had specific impairment in prosodic emotion recognition, especially for sadness. Selective deficits in prosodic emotion recognition suggests that (1) hemispheric effects in emotion recognition may contribute to the impairment of emotional communication in a subset of people with PD and (2) the coordination of neural networks needed to decipher temporally complex social cues may be specifically disrupted in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1936-1945
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Emotion processing
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Prosody lateralization
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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