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Philipp Ellmerer 1 Article
Emotion Recognition in Multiple System Atrophy: An Exploratory Eye-Tracking Study
Victoria Sidoroff, Federico Carbone, Philipp Ellmerer, Stefanie Bair, Alexandra Hoffmann, Thomas Maran, Florian Krismer, Philipp Mahlknecht, Katherina Mair, Cecilia Raccagni, Jean-Pierre Ndayisaba, Klaus Seppi, Gregor K. Wenning, Atbin Djamshidian
J Mov Disord. 2024;17(1):38-46.   Published online September 26, 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.14802/jmd.23090
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AbstractAbstract PDF
Objective
Emotional processing is a core feature of social interactions and has been well studied in patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD), albeit with contradictory results. However, these studies excluded patients with atypical parkinsonism, such as multiple system atrophy (MSA). The objective of this exploratory study was to provide better insights into emotion processing in patients with MSA using eye tracking data.
Methods
We included 21 MSA patients, 15 PD patients and 19 matched controls in this study. Participants performed a dynamic and a static emotion recognition task, and gaze fixations were analyzed in different areas of interest. Participants underwent neuropsychological testing and assessment of depression and alexithymia.
Results
MSA patients were less accurate in recognizing anger than controls (p = 0.02) and had overall fewer fixations than controls (p = 0.001). In the static task, MSA patients had fewer fixations (p < 0.001) and a longer time to first fixation (p = 0.026) on the eye region. Furthermore, MSA patients had a longer fixation duration overall than PD patients (p = 0.004) and longer fixations on the nose than controls (p = 0.005). Alexithymia scores were higher in MSA patients compared to controls (p = 0.038).
Conclusion
This study demonstrated impaired recognition of anger in MSA patients compared to HCs. Fewer and later fixations on the eyes along with a center bias suggest avoidance of eye contact, which may be a characteristic gaze behavior in MSA patients.

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