How does Parkinson's disease affect social aspects of communication?


Over the lifespan, human health and well-being hinges on the ability to communicate effectively with others and to maintain social relationships.  While most take these skills for granted, the ability to function successfully in social situations is highly complex and depends on the preservation of different mental abilities, such as the ability to infer the emotions of others, to determine their perspectives and intentions, and to appropriately use this knowledge to guide behaviour and interpersonal communication. 

In adults with Parkinson’s disease, degeneration of the brain leads to progressive difficulties that affect movement, but also specific mental abilities that are critical for social functioning. 

The goal of this research is to specify how changes in mental functioning in individuals with Parkinson’s disease impact on their ability to process emotions and to make social inferences (e.g., take other people’s perspectives, show empathy ,etc.).  At the same time, our research will document the impact of Parkinson’ disease on interpersonal communication from the perspective of listeners naïve to the patient’s disease status.

Our undertakings will lead to new clinical insights about how mental and communication skills are affected by Parkinson’s disease, and shed light on the psychological and social barriers faced by individuals suffering from the disease.  Our findings will serve as a vital resource for clinicians and caregivers who work to maintain the quality of life and independence of individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.


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