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Impaired emotion and sincerity perception after severe traumatic brain injury


McDonald, S and Fisher, A and Flanagan, S and Honan, CA, Impaired emotion and sincerity perception after severe traumatic brain injury, INS/ASSBI 5th Pacific Rim Conference, July 2015, Sydney, Australia (2015) [Conference Extract]


Background: People with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) show impaired Theory of Mind or mentalising abilities which affect their capacity to recognise sarcasm and lies in dyadic exchanges. This study aimed to investigate whether: i) these problems are seen in more complex scenarios with four speakers; and ii) is associated with deficits in basic emotion perception, empathy and abstract reasoning.

Methods: Thirty-one adults with severe TBI (24 males) and 25 demographically-matched Controls (20 males) participated. Purpose-designed video vignettes depicted four actors volunteering for additional duties. Limited verbal responses were used; these literally suggested a willingness to be involved but their intended meaning was tempered by the actor’s emotional demeanour. Measures included: participants’ ratings (0-100%) and rankings (1, 2, 3, 4) of actors’ sincerity; basic emotion evaluation; self-reported empathy levels; verbal and nonverbal abstract reasoning.

Results: Compared to Controls, TBI participants were worse at differentiating between sincere and insincere expressions (p<0.05), and rated insincere expressions as more sincere (p<0.05), though performed similarly in how they rated sincere expressions (p>0.10). TBI participants were also less consistent (α = 0.65) than Controls (α = 0.90) in their rankings of sincere and insincere expressions (p<0.01). Poorer abstract reasoning, emotion perception and cognitive empathy were all associated with poorer sincerity/sarcasm detection overall (all p<0.05); poorer emotional empathy and emotion perception were both associated with rating insincere expressions as sincere (p<0.05).

Conclusions: TBI-related impairments in sincerity/sarcasm detection may be due to a failure to differentiate between sincerity and insincerity. Moreover, poorer emotion perception, empathic and abstract reasoning abilities may all contribute to poorer sincerity/sarcasm detection after TBI, suggesting that both cognitive and emotional impairments are implicated in social deficits.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Honan, CA (Dr Cynthia Honan)
ID Code:104561
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2015-11-16
Last Modified:2016-03-22

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