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Alzheimer's Patients Can Still Feel The Emotion Even After Memories Disappear, Study Finds

Update Date: Sep 25, 2014 08:52 AM EDT

Caregivers have a profound influence - good or bad - on the emotional state of individuals with Alzheimer's disease, finds a new study. 

According to the study, patients may not remember a recent visit by a loved one or having been neglected by staff at a nursing home, but those actions can have lasting impact on how they feel. 

Researchers showed individuals with Alzheimer's disease clips of sad and happy movies. They observed that patients experienced sustained states of sadness and happiness despite not being able to remember the movies. 

"This confirms that the emotional life of an Alzheimer's patient is alive and well," said lead author Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez, a doctoral student in clinical psychology, a Dean's Graduate Research Fellow, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, in the press release.

Same team had published a paper in 2010 that had predicted the importance of attending to the emotional need of people with Alzheimer's which is expected to affect around 16 million people in the United States by 2050, costing an estimated $1.2 trillion.

"It's extremely important to see data that support our previous prediction," Tranel added. "Edmarie's research has immediate implications for how we treat patients and how we teach caregivers."

The study has been published in the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.

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