Recognizing vocal expressions of emotion in patients with social skills deficits following traumatic brain injury

School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Kensington 2052 NSW, Australia.
Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (Impact Factor: 2.96). 03/2010; 16(2):369-82. DOI: 10.1017/S1355617709991445
Source: PubMed


Perception of emotion in voice is impaired following traumatic brain injury (TBI). This study examined whether an inability to concurrently process semantic information (the "what") and emotional prosody (the "how") of spoken speech contributes to impaired recognition of emotional prosody and whether impairment is ameliorated when little or no semantic information is provided. Eighteen individuals with moderate-to-severe TBI showing social skills deficits during inpatient rehabilitation were compared with 18 demographically matched controls. Participants completed two discrimination tasks using spoken sentences that varied in the amount of semantic information: that is, (1) well-formed English, (2) a nonsense language, and (3) low-pass filtered speech producing "muffled" voices. Reducing semantic processing demands did not improve perception of emotional prosody. The TBI group were significantly less accurate than controls. Impairment was greater within the TBI group when accessing semantic memory to label the emotion of sentences, compared with simply making "same/different" judgments. Findings suggest an impairment of processing emotional prosody itself rather than semantic processing demands which leads to an over-reliance on the "what" rather than the "how" in conversational remarks. Emotional recognition accuracy was significantly related to the ability to inhibit prepotent responses, consistent with neuroanatomical research suggesting similar ventrofrontal systems subserve both functions.

Download full-text


Available from: Marc D. Pell,
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The ability to identify emotions in spoken language is an essential component of communication and could be disrupted in persons with brain injury. Current tools to assess this function show important shortcomings. The aim is to present a set of validated and linguistically equated lexical sentences that can be used to separate the impact of lexical content and prosody on the processing of emotion in speech in persons with brain injury. Using six-point Likert scales, a set of 125 sentences, carefully matched for linguistic variables, were rated by a group of young adults (n = 48) on their suitability to represent a particular emotion (anger, fear, happiness and sadness) in their lexical content. The findings identified a set of 50 sentences that were reliably associated with one particular emotion only or no emotion at all (neutral). Using less stringent criteria, 94 sentences were also found to be good representatives for these affective categories. The findings generated a robust set of validated lexical stimuli necessary to reliably identify the specific contributions of verbal and prosodic information on difficulties in identifying emotions in speech with persons with brain injury.
    Brain Injury 02/2011; 25(2):206-20. DOI:10.3109/02699052.2010.536197 · 1.81 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The researchers sought to determine the extent to which individuals with and without traumatic brain injury (TBI) integrate gestural and verbal information when interpreting indirect requests. Eighteen adults with cognitive-communication impairments secondary to severe TBI and 18 neurologically-intact adults viewed video vignettes depicting actors conversing in everyday contexts and concluding with indirect requests. Indirect requests were presented in three conditions: verbal information only (VO), gestural information only (GO) and combined verbal and gestural information (VG). Following each vignette, participants answered prediction and interpretation probes. Statistical analysis revealed comparable performance patterns across participant groups, with significantly better performance in the VG condition than either the VO or GO conditions; however, neurologically-intact participants performed significantly better than participants with TBI in all conditions. Further analysis involved categorization of incorrect responses to determine the basis for participant errors. Overall, results suggest that individuals with brain injury benefit from a combination of gestural and verbal information when interpreting indirect requests; however, interpretations by individuals with brain injury are less accurate than interpretations made by neurologically-intact individuals. Incorrect responses tend to be abstract rather than literal and inaccurate with regard to a speaker's intended meaning.
    Brain Injury 07/2011; 25(7-8):767-76. DOI:10.3109/02699052.2011.576307 · 1.81 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: 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.
    Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 07/2012; 34(9). DOI:10.1080/13803395.2012.702734 · 2.08 Impact Factor
Show more