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Theory of Mind in Huntington's Disease: A Systematic Review of 20 Years of Research.

BACKGROUND: People with Huntington's disease (HD) exhibit neurocognitive alterations throughout the disease, including deficits in social cognitive processes such as Theory of Mind (ToM).

OBJECTIVE: The aim is to identify methodologies and ToM instruments employed in HD, alongside relevant findings, within the scientific literature of the past two decades.

METHODS: We conducted a comprehensive search for relevant papers in the SCOPUS, PubMed, APA-PsyArticles, Web of Science, Redalyc, and SciELO databases. In the selection process, we specifically focused on studies that included individuals with a confirmed genetic status of HD and investigated ToM functioning in patients with and without motor symptoms. The systematic review followed the PRISMA protocol.

RESULTS: A total of 27 papers were selected for this systematic review, covering the period from 2003 to 2023. The findings consistently indicate that ToM is globally affected in patients with manifest motor symptoms. In individuals without motor symptoms, impairments are focused on the affective dimensions of ToM.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on our analysis, affective ToM could be considered a potential biomarker for HD. Therefore, it is recommended that ToM assessment be included as part of neuropsychological evaluation protocols in clinical settings. Suchinclusion could aid in the identification of early stages of the disease and provide new opportunities for treatment, particularly with emerging drugs like antisense oligomers. The Prospero registration number for this review is CRD42020209769.

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