Background: Among behavioral and socioemotional changes occurring before cognitive decline at the early stages of frontotemporal dementia, the patients often manifest with self-neglect and some criteria of Diogene syndrome. Despite the lack of accurate behavior regarding disgust, are they still sensitive to the emotional content of disgust-inducing words or scenes?
Methods: Eleven patients with frontotemporal dementia, 11 healthy controls, and 34 young adults performed a lexical decision task, where some of the words conveyed an emotional content and a number comparison task while they were presented with emotion-inducing pictures. They were not instructed to identify the emotional content of the words and pictures.
Results: Contrary to the healthy controls paired for age, the patients provided delayed responses for disgust-inducing words in the lexical decision task and in presence of disgust-inducing pictures in the number comparison task.
Conclusions: Although they manifest with self-neglect and inaccurate behavior regarding dirt, the patients were still sensitive to disgust, provided that this sensitivity was tested implicitly, suggesting that they above all suffer from inabilities in matching the appropriate social behavior with such emotions.