Implicit behavioural change in response to cognitive tasks in Alzheimer’s disease

Iris Bomilcar, Robin Guy Morris, Richard Gerard Brown, Daniel C. Mograbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
258 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Lack of awareness about condition or neuropsychological impairment is commonly found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recently, evidence has been produced which suggests that people with AD are capable of responding to the experience of illness despite limited awareness of their condition. The current study explored whether implicit emotional responses to experiences of failure in cognitive tasks would result in longer term change in behaviour. Method: A group of patients with AD were seen one week after doing tasks which previously had been rigged to be too difficult or easy for them, but now were both set at medium difficulty and administered such that the participants decided how long to persist on the task. Task avoidance was determined by relative persistence on the tasks, with the notion that a participant would be more likely to avoid a task if they had previously experienced failure on it in the first session. Results: The results indicated that there was no increased persistence based on previous performance. However, when considering initial awareness of performance, differences between tasks became significant. Patients reacted to the number of errors during the second session, stopping tasks after a sequence of errors. There were no self-reported changes in motivation or enjoyment in response to task failure. Conclusions: These findings suggest that implicit learning of task valence may be compromised in AD, but that initial moments of awareness may influence long term adaptation in unaware patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


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