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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2008 Mar;14(2):318-26. doi: 10.1017/S1355617708080351.

Social behavior following traumatic brain injury and its association with emotion recognition, understanding of intentions, and cognitive flexibility.

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School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.

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  • J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2008 May;14(3):508.


Although the adverse consequences of changes in social behavior following traumatic brain injury (TBI) are well documented, relatively little is known about possible underlying neuropsychological deficits. Following a model originally developed for social behavior deficits in schizophrenia, we investigated whether impairments in emotion recognition, understanding of other people's intentions ("theory of mind"), and cognitive flexibility soon after first TBI or 1 year later were associated with self and proxy ratings of behavior following TBI. Each of the three functions was assessed with two separate tests, and ratings of behavior were collected on three questionnaires. Patients with TBI (n = 33) were impaired in emotion recognition, "theory of mind," and cognitive flexibility compared with matched orthopedic controls (n = 34). Proxy ratings showed increases in behavioral problems 1 year following injury in the TBI group but not in the control group. However, test performance was not associated with questionnaire data. Severity of the impairments in emotion recognition, understanding intention, and flexibility were unrelated to the severity of behavioral problems following TBI. These findings failed to confirm the used model for social behavior deficits and may cast doubt on the alleged link between deficits in emotion recognition or theory of mind and social functioning.

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