Neurological Sciences

, Volume 40, Issue 10, pp 2175–2178 | Cite as

Emotional valence may influence memory performance for visual artworks in Parkinson’s disease

  • Nicoletta Ciccarelli
  • Sonia Di TellaEmail author
  • Maria Rita Lo Monaco
  • Angelo Carfì
  • Elisabetta Serafini
  • Valentina Delle Donne
  • Maria Caterina Silveri
Brief Communication



Non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD) include reduced reactivity to emotional stimuli. Visual artworks can evoke emotional responses. Motor, sensorial and cognitive networks implicated in the aesthetic experience and in the emotional-reward domain show a significant overlap with the pathological nigrostriatal, mesocortical and mesolimbic circuitry that characterises PD.


Memory enhancement by emotional stimuli such as visual artwork-stimuli was explored in 12 right-sided and 12 left-sided non-demented-PD patients, 12 Alzheimer’s disease patients (AD) and 13 healthy controls (HC). Ten emotional and 10 non-emotional stimuli were previously identified based on the ratings of the emotional impact provided by 45 non-PD subjects on 82 pictures of paintings. Only figurative artworks were included. Patients and HC were requested to rate on a 7-point scale the emotional impact of 20 pictures; they were then requested to recognise the 20 pictures amongst 20 distractors (incidental memory task).

Results and Conclusion

Recognition of emotional stimuli was more accurate compared to non-emotional stimuli in AD, left-sided PD and HC; right-sided PD did not show sensitivity to the emotional valence of the stimuli suggesting the involvement of the nigrostriatal, mesocortical and mesolimbic circuitry of the left hemisphere in the emotional-reward system related to the aesthetic experience.


Parkinson’s disease Aesthetic experience Left-sided PD Right-sided PD Incidental memory Symptom asymmetry 



The authors thank the Crespi Spano Foundation for a scholarship given to Sonia Di Tella.

Compliance with ethical standards

Authors’ roles

NC, SDT and MCS conceived the study. ES and AC planned the study design. MLM and VDD contributed to patient recruitment and helped with implementation. SDT and AC performed statistical analyses. All authors contributed to writing, review and editing of the manuscript and approved the final content.

Ethical compliance statement

Each participant provided informed consent and the study was approved by the Ethics Committee of our Institution.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10072_2019_3939_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


  1. 1.
    Pelowski M, Markey PS, Forster M, Gerger G, Leder H (2017) Move me, astonish me… delight my eyes and brain: the Vienna integrated model of top-down and bottom-up processes in art perception (VIMAP) and corresponding affective, evaluative, and neurophysiological correlates. Phys Life Rev 21:80–125. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Di Dio C, Gallese V (2009) Neuroaesthetics: a review. Curr Opin Neurobiol 19(6):682–687. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Péron J, Dondaine T, Le Jeune F, Grandjean D, Vérin M (2012) Emotional processing in Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review. Mov Disord 27(2):186–199. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weil RS, Schrag AE, Warren JD, Crutch SJ, Lees AJ, Morris HR (2016) Visual dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. Brain 139(11):2827–2843. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Di Tella S, Baglio F, Cabinio M, Nemni R, Traficante D, Silveri MC (2018) Selection processing in noun and verb production in left- and right-sided Parkinson’s disease patients. Front Psychol 9:1241. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Verreyt N, Nys GM, Santens P, Vingerhoets G (2011) Cognitive differences between patients with left-sided and right-sided Parkinson's disease. A review. Neuropsychol Rev 21(4):405–424. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cupchik GC, Vartanian O, Crawley A, Mikulis DJ (2009) Viewing artworks: contributions of cognitive control and perceptual facilitation to aesthetic experience. Brain Cogn 70(1):84–91. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lindquist KA, MacCormack JK, Shablack H (2015) The role of language in emotion: predictions from psychological constructionism. Front Psychol 6:444. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Silveri MC, Ferrante I, Brita AC, Rossi P, Liperoti R, Mammarella F, Bernabei R, Marini Chiarelli MV, De Luca M (2015) “The memory of beauty” survives Alzheimer’s disease (but cannot help memory). J Alzheimers Dis 45(2):483–494. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mirabella G (2015) Is art therapy a reliable tool for rehabilitating people suffering from brain/mental diseases? J Altern Complement Med 21(4):196–199. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mirabella G, De Vita P, Fragola M, Rampelli S, Lena F, Dilettuso F, ... Modugno N (2017). Theatre is a valid add-on therapeutic intervention for emotional rehabilitation of Parkinson’s disease patients. Parkinson’s Disease 2017: 7436725.

Copyright information

© Fondazione Società Italiana di Neurologia 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuoreMilanItaly
  2. 2.IRCCS, Fondazione Don Carlo GnocchiMilanItaly
  3. 3.IRCCS Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. GemelliRomeItaly
  4. 4.Università Cattolica del Sacro CuoreRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations