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Reconnaissance et mimétisme des émotions exprimées sur le visage : vers une compréhension des mécanismes à travers le modèle parkinsonien

Abstract : Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition primarily resulting from a dysfunction of the basal ganglia following a progressive loss of midbrain dopamine neurons. Alongside the well-known motor symptoms, PD patients also suffer from emotional disorders including difficulties to recognize and to produce facial emotions. Here, there is a question whether the emotion recognition impairments in Parkinson’s disease could be in part related to motor symptoms. Indeed, according to embodied simulation theory, understanding other people’s emotions would be fostered by facial mimicry. Automatic and non-conscious, facial mimicry is characterized by congruent valence-related facial responses to the emotion expressed by others. In this context, disturbed motor processing could lead to impairments in emotion recognition. Yet, one of the most distinctive clinical features in Parkinson’s disease is facial amimia, a reduction in facial expressiveness. Thus, we studied the ability to mimic facial expression in Parkinson’s disease, its effective influence on emotion recognition as well as the effect of dopamine replacement therapy both on emotion recognition and facial mimicry. For these purposes, we investigated electromyographic responses (corrugator supercilii, zygomaticus major and orbicularis oculi) to facial emotion among patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and healthy participants in a facial emotion recognition paradigm (joy, anger, neutral). Our results showed that the facial emotion processing in Parkinson’s disease could be swung from a normal to a pathological, noisy, functioning because of a weaker signal-to-noise ratio. Besides, facial mimicry could have a beneficial effect on the recognition of emotion. Nevertheless, the negative impact of Parkinson’s disease on facial mimicry and its influence on emotion recognition would depend on the muscles involved in the production of the emotional expression to decode. Indeed, the corrugator relaxation would be a stronger predictor of the recognition of joy expressions than the zygomatic or orbicularis contractions. On the other hand, we cannot conclude here that the corrugator reactions foster the recognition of anger. Furthermore, we proposed this experiment to a group of patients under dopamine replacement therapy but also during a temporary withdrawal from treatment. The preliminary results are in favour of a beneficial effect of dopaminergic medication on both emotion recognition and facial mimicry. The potential positive “peripheral” impact of dopamine replacement therapy on emotion recognition through restoration of facial mimicry has still to be tested. We discussed these findings in the light of recent considerations about the role of basal ganglia-based circuits and embodied simulation theory ending with the results’ clinical significances.
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Soizic Argaud. Reconnaissance et mimétisme des émotions exprimées sur le visage : vers une compréhension des mécanismes à travers le modèle parkinsonien. Médecine humaine et pathologie. Université Rennes 1; Université de Genève. Faculté de psychologie et des sciences de l'éducation, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016REN1B023⟩. ⟨tel-01593372⟩

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