Research Reports - Amused, flirting or simply baffled? Is recognition of all emotions affected by traumatic brain injury?

 J Neuropsychol. 2016 Jun 29. doi: 10.1111/jnp.12109. [Epub ahead of print]

Rosenberg H(1), McDonald S(1), Rosenberg J(1), Frederick Westbrook R(1).

OBJECTIVE: This study examined whether people with moderate-severe traumatic
brain injury (TBI) display a specific or a general impairment in emotion
recognition compared with matched controls, whether these deficits might be
accounted for by deficits in other cognitive processes, and whether emotion
recognition predicts social functioning following TBI.
PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-two participants with TBI and 32 matched controls took part
in this study.
DESIGN: Participants completed the Complex Audio-Visual Emotion Assessment Task
(CAVEAT), a novel measure of emotion recognition, alongside measures of
neuropsychological functioning. The TBI group also completed selected self-report
measures of psychosocial functioning.
RESULTS: Traumatic brain injury participants performed more poorly than controls
in recognizing all emotions, rather than displaying a selective impairment in
recognizing some emotions (e.g., negative vs. positive) compared with others.
Although abstract reasoning, working memory, and processing speed were associated
with emotion recognition, injury severity and abstract reasoning were the sole
predictors of emotion recognition as measured by the CAVEAT. Emotion recognition
accuracy in the TBI group was associated with number of friends and self-reported
apathy.
CONCLUSION: Emotion recognition deficits are a direct consequence of TBI and have
a direct effect on the social dysfunction which is a common outcome of TBI,
strengthening the need for targeted remediation. 

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