A study recently conducted at the University of New South Wales found that "patients under the age of 65 suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the second most common form of dementia, cannot detect when someone is being sarcastic." So maybe there's a medical use for Dr. Gregory House's peculiar form of bedside manner, after all.
In the experiment, actors acted out scenarios using the same exact words, but sometimes in a neutral tone and other times in a sarcastic tone. Patients were asked if they "got the joke." The researchers compared the reactions of Alzheimer's patients and those with FTD. The FTD patients were not able to detect when humor or sarcasm was being used.
This has implications for social workers who work with people who have dementia and their families. The study, published in "Brain," helps explain why FTD (also known as "Pick's Disease") patients do not pick up on their caregivers' moods and other social cues. If caregivers and family members are educated about this aspect of the disease, they may be better equipped to cope with it.
Isn't research fun?
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The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.
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