Interesting Findings Reported in Recent DM Research Studies on Facial Recognition

Published on Fri, 04/18/2014

Interesting Findings Reported in Recent DM Research Studies on Facial Recognition

A recently published study from Sweden reported impaired facial recognition in people with DM1, and indicated that there are brain differences that affect how faces are perceived and stored by people with DM1. Dr. Katharine Hagerman, Research Associate at Stanford University Neuromuscular Division and Clinics, provides a summary of the Swedish facial recognition study.

Facial Memory Deficits in Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1
J Lundin Kleberg, C Lindberg, and S Winblad (2014) Acta Neruol Scand

Three Swedish researchers recently assessed cognitive differences seen in people with type 1 myotonic dystrophy (DM1). Their previous studies had shown that people with DM1 had a reduced ability to recognize facial emotions, and this correlated with lower sociability. In order to further assess factors affecting sociability in DM1, participants were given pictures of 15 different faces, and were later asked to pick out which faces they had seen before from a set of 30 pictures. Overall, 36% of participants with DM1 had impaired memory of faces, compared to 13% of participants without DM1.

Those with DM1 who had impaired memory of faces tended to falsely recognize faces (false positives), and upon further cognitive testing this group had reduced performance in tests of spatial coordination and motor skills. The researchers believe the impaired facial recognition seen in some people with DM1 indicates deficits in how the information about faces is perceived and stored. They suggest future studies should use eye-tracking to see how people with DM scan pictures to store information. They also recommended conducting MRI studies to see how the brain may differ both in structure and function in those with DM.

For the article abstract click here.