Are you a push-over? New study shows naivete about sarcasm may herald early Alzheimer’s

Actually, I consider myself a wimp–somewhat. I’ll run a mile to avoid confrontation or verbal battle. On the other hand, just because I don’t like confrontation doesn’t mean I don’t see barbs when they’re slung my way.

I’m not sure I accept a new study that found Early Stage Alzheimer’s might show itself as the patient’s inability to recognize sarcasm or lies.

“If somebody has strange behavior and they stop understanding things like sarcasm and lies, they should see a specialist who can make sure this is not the start of one of these diseases,” study researcher Katherine Rankin, a neuropsychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement.

FOX NEWS reports that Rankin and her colleagues asked about 175 people, more than half of whom had a neurodegenerative disorder like dementia, to watch videos of people talking. The videotaped people would sometimes drop in a lie or use sarcasm, which they signaled with body language and verbal cues. After watching the videos, the participants answered yes and no questions about what they’d seen.

Older adults who were healthy did fine at distinguishing the truth from lies and recognized when sarcasm was employed.  But the older adults who had dementia affecting their frontal lobes (the seat of judgment and self-control in the brain) had a difficult time telling the difference between sarcasm, lies and truth. The people who had frontotemporal dementia had the most difficult time, while the people with Alzheimer’s disease did a little better. Showing a definite difference in relevance and understanding according to their kind of cognitive decline.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers found that the inability to detect sarcasm and lies matched up with the amount of damage in the parts of the frontal lobe responsible for that judgment. Sudden gullibility should be recognized as another warning sign of dementia, Rankin said.

“We have to find these people early,” she said, showing the related goal to the study.

Rankin reported the findings at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Hawaii.

Personally, I never noticed any such difference in my own mother. Yet, as I think back–she was fairly far advanced before we realized she had problems greater than old age. Possibly, at an earlier stage, she would have shown such symptoms as gullibility and fail to recognize sarcasm or lies. I just never noticed any such traits in her behavior. Mom did have Alzheimer’s, though, and that seems to be the disease that suffers the least from this lack of recognition to lies and sarcasm.

If this news leads to a new test or development that can diagnose this disease earlier, I’m all for that.
What do you think? Does someone you know with Early stage Dementia or Alzheimer’s exhibit such behavior?

————————————————————————————–

 

 

Speak Your Mind