Research Reports - Hyposmia, not emotion perception, is associated with psychosocial outcome after traumatic brain injury

Neuropsychology. 2016 May 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Osborne-Crowley K, McDonald S.

OBJECTIVE: The current study aimed to determine whether 2 variables associated
with orbitofrontal damage, hyposmia and emotion perception deficits, are
associated with socially disinhibited behavior and psychosocial outcome after
traumatic brain injury (TBI).
METHODS: The Brief Smell Identification Test (BSIT), an emotion labeling task, an
emotion intensity rating task, and an observational measure of social
disinhibition were completed by 23 individuals with severe TBI. The disinhibition
domain of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and the interpersonal relationships
subscale of the Sydney Psychosocial Reintegration Scale (SPRS-IR) were completed
by a close other. Fifteen control participants provided norms against which to
assess performance on the emotion intensity rating task.
RESULTS: BSIT scores predicted informant-reported change in interpersonal
relationships on the SPRS-IR. Hyposmia, though, was not associated with
informant-reported or observed social disinhibition. An impairment in accuracy
scores on both emotion perceptions tasks was found for participants with TBI, yet
intensity ratings did not differ between groups. This suggests that people with
TBI are not actually impaired at detecting intensity of emotion but are less
likely to perceive the target emotion as the dominant emotion. Emotion perception
was not related to disinhibition or change in interpersonal relationships.
CONCLUSIONS: These results support previous claims that hyposmia has prognostic
significance following TBI. On the other hand, emotion perception impairment
measured by standardized tasks does not appear to be an important factor in
interpersonal outcomes. Finally, these results suggest that standardized emotion
perception tasks may underestimate the emotion perception capabilities of people
with TBI.  

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