Facial expression recognition in people with medicated and unmedicated Parkinson's disease

Neuropsychologia. 2003;41(8):1047-57. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(02)00295-6.


Recognition of facial expressions of emotion was investigated in people with medicated and unmedicated Parkinson's disease (PD) and matched controls (unmedicated PD, n=16; medicated PD, n=20; controls, n=40). Participants in the medicated group showed some visual impairment (impaired contrast sensitivity) and performed less well on perception of unfamiliar face identity, but did not show significant deficits in the perception of sex, gaze direction, or familiar identity from the face. For both Parkinson's disease groups, there was evidence of impaired recognition of facial expressions in comparison to controls. These deficits were more consistently noted in the unmedicated group, who were also found to perform worse than the medicated group at recognising disgust from prototypical facial expressions, and at recognising anger and disgust in computer-manipulated images. Although both Parkinson's disease groups showed impairments of facial expression recognition, the consistently worse recognition of disgust in the unmedicated group is consistent with the hypothesis from previous studies that brain regions modulated by dopaminergic neurons are involved in the recognition of disgust.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Choice Behavior
  • Cues
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Agents / therapeutic use
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Form Perception
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / drug effects
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects*
  • Sex
  • Visual Perception


  • Dopamine Agents