Deficits in facial emotion perception in adults with recent traumatic brain injury

Robin E.A. Green*, Gary R. Turner, William F. Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


We examined whether facial emotion perception was compromised in adults with recent traumatic brain injury (TBI). Few studies have examined emotion perception in TBI; those that have, examined chronic patients only. Recent and chronic TBI populations differ according to degree of functional reorganization of the brain, use of compensatory strategies, and severity of cognitive impairments - any of which might differentially affect presentation of emotion perception deficits. A secondary aim of the study was to utilize the TBI population - in whom diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a cardinal neurological feature - to examine the suggestion of Adolphs et al. [Journal of Neuroscience 20(7) (2000) 2683] that damage to white matter tracts should give rise to emotion perception deficits. Methods: Thirty TBI participants and 30 age-matched controls were tested. A 2×3 mixed design was employed. The dependent variable was accuracy on neutral and emotional face perception tests. Results: (1) The TBI group performed significantly less accurately than the matched controls on the facial emotion perception tasks, whereas the groups performed equivalently on a non-emotional face perception control task. (2) A sub-group of TBI participants without evidence of focal injury to areas of the brain most commonly implicated in facial emotion perception was as impaired on the emotion perception tasks as a second sub-group who had sustained focal lesions to these areas. This suggests an alternative neurological mechanism for deficits in the first sub-group, such as DAI. Conclusions: Patients with recently acquired TBI are impaired in their ability to perceive emotions in faces. DAI alone may cause facial emotion perception deficits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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