Research Reports - The female advantage: sex as a possible protective factor against emotion recognition impairment following traumatic brain injury

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2016 May 31. [Epub ahead of print]

Rigon A(1), Turkstra L(2), Mutlu B(3), Duff M(4,)(5,)(6).

Although moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to facial affect
recognition impairments in up to 39% of individuals, protective and risk factors
for these deficits are unknown. The aim of the current study was to examine the
effect of sex on emotion recognition abilities following TBI. We administered two
separate emotion recognition tests (one static and one dynamic) to 53 individuals
with moderate to severe TBI (females = 28) and 49 demographically matched
comparisons (females = 22). We then investigated the presence of a sex-by-group
interaction in emotion recognition accuracy. In the comparison group, there were
no sex differences. In the TBI group, however, females significantly outperformed
males in the dynamic (but not the static) task. Moreover, males (but not females)
with TBI performed significantly worse than comparison participants in the
dynamic task. Further analysis revealed that sex differences in emotion
recognition abilities within the TBI group could not be explained by lesion
location, TBI severity, or other neuropsychological variables. These findings
suggest that sex may serve as a protective factor for social impairment following
TBI and inform clinicians working with TBI as well as research on the
neurophysiological correlates of sex differences in social functioning. 

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