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Neuropsychologia. 1996 Apr;34(4):247-61.

Face and voice expression identification in patients with emotional and behavioural changes following ventral frontal lobe damage.

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  • 1University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology, U.K.


Impairments in the identification of facial and vocal emotional expression were demonstrated in a group of patients with ventral frontal lobe damage who had socially inappropriate behaviour. The expression identification impairments could occur independently of perceptual impairments in facial recognition, voice discrimination, or environmental sound recognition. The face and voice expression problems did not necessarily occur together in the same patients, providing an indication of separate processing. Poor performance on both expression tests was correlated with the degree of alteration of emotional experience reported by the patients. There was also a strong positive correlation between the degree of altered emotional experience and the severity of the behavioural problems (e.g. disinhibition) found in these patients. A comparison group of patients with brain damage outside the ventral frontal lobe region, without these behavioural problems, was unimpaired on the face expression identification test, was significantly less impaired at vocal expression identification and reported little subjective emotional change. The expression identification deficits in ventral frontal patients may contribute to the abnormal behaviour seen after frontal lesions, and have implications for rehabilitation.

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