Research Reports - Spontaneous and posed emotional facial expressions following severe traumatic brain injury

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2012 Nov;34(9):936-47

Dethier M, Blairy S, Rosenberg H, McDonald S

Aim: The current study aimed to test the intensity of spontaneous emotional
expressions and the accuracy of posed emotional expressions in patients with
severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Method: Twenty-three participants with TBI
and 27 matched control participants were asked to relate personal angry, happy,
and sad events (spontaneous expressivity) and to pose angry, happy, and sad
expressions in response to a photo or word cue (posed expressivity). Their
emotional facial expressions were coded via judges' ratings. Results:
Participants with TBI had less intense sad expressions when relating a sad event
than did control participants. No group difference emerged in the happy and angry
events, the latter possibly due to differentially low interrater reliability for
anger ratings. Participants with TBI were impaired in their ability to pose sad
emotions. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest that patients with TBI
are impaired at expressing sad expressions either spontaneously or deliberately.
This may reflect difficulties in the initiation or suppression of facial
expression as well as an impaired semantic knowledge of the facial configuration
of sad expression.

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