Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Cynthia R. Cimino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chad Dubé, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul Jacobsen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Geoffrey Potts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Storch, Ph.D.


Huntington’s disease, emotion, memory, affective


Huntington’s disease (HD) patients have been found to have specific deficits in emotional processing, most consistently demonstrating impairment recognizing the emotion expressed on a static face. The purpose of this study was to examine emotional memory in HD, which has not yet been investigated, and its relationship with executive functioning, emotional facial recognition, and the disease progression in HD. An emotional memory task with pleasant, neural, and unpleasant words was administered to control (n=26), prodromal HD (n=26), and manifest HD (n=29) participants in addition to executive function measures, an apathy scale, and emotional facial recognition task. Free recall was not significantly different between groups. Using recognition sensitivity (d’), prodromal HD participants did not demonstrate emotional memory enhancement, while manifest HD patients evidenced significantly lower emotional recognition relative to controls. Groups were significantly different on neutral word recognition. Emotional recognition sensitivity was related to disease progression, emotional facial recognition, and executive functioning, but not apathy. Regression models suggested that recognition for pleasant and unpleasant words have both shared and unique predictors, with executive dysfunction predicting affective recognition within both valences. Disease progression uniquely predicted unpleasant recognition while age was a negative predictor of pleasant recognition. These results suggest that impaired emotional memory is present in HD, progresses with the disease, and may evidence increased difficulty with negative emotional memory.