Comprehension of insincere communication is an important aspect of social cognition requiring visual perspective taking, emotion reading, and understanding others' thoughts, opinions, and intentions. Someone who is lying intends to hide their insincerity from the listener, while a sarcastic speaker wants the listener to recognize they are speaking insincerely. We investigated whether face-to-face testing of comprehending insincere communication would effectively discriminate among neurodegenerative disease patients with different patterns of real-life social deficits. We examined ability to comprehend lies and sarcasm from a third-person perspective, using contextual cues, in 102 patients with one of four neurodegenerative diseases (behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia [bvFTD], Alzheimer's disease [AD], progressive supranuclear palsy [PSP], and vascular cognitive impairment) and 77 healthy older adults (normal controls - NCs). Participants answered questions about videos depicting social interactions involving deceptive, sarcastic, or sincere speech using The Awareness of Social Inference Test. All subjects equally understood sincere remarks, but bvFTD patients displayed impaired comprehension of lies and sarcasm compared with NCs. In other groups, impairment was not disease-specific but was proportionate to general cognitive impairment. Analysis of the task components revealed that only bvFTD patients were impaired on perspective taking and emotion reading elements and that both bvFTD and PSP patients had impaired ability to represent others' opinions and intentions (i.e., theory of mind). Test performance correlated with informants' ratings of subjects' empathy, perspective taking and neuropsychiatric symptoms in everyday life. Comprehending insincere communication is complex and requires multiple cognitive and emotional processes vulnerable across neurodegenerative diseases. However, bvFTD patients show uniquely focal and severe impairments at every level of theory of mind and emotion reading, leading to an inability to identify obvious examples of deception and sarcasm. This is consistent with studies suggesting this disease targets a specific neural network necessary for perceiving social salience and predicting negative social outcomes.
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"At the end of each clip, participants answer four yes/no questions regarding the speaker's true beliefs, intentions, and emotional state. TASIT-III requires complex processing to decode speakers' thoughts and intentions and thus measures high-level social cognition and theory of mind (Shany-Ur et al. 2012). Scores range from 0 to 64 questions correct. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Rationale:
There has been an explosion of research on the potential benefits of the social neuropeptide oxytocin for a number of mental disorders including substance use disorders. Recent evidence suggests that intranasal oxytocin has both direct anti-addiction effects and pro-social effects that may facilitate engagement in psychosocial treatment for substance use disorders.
We aimed to assess the tolerability of intranasal oxytocin and its effects on heroin craving, implicit association with heroin and social perceptual ability in opioid-dependent patients receiving opioid replacement therapy (ORT) and healthy control participants.
We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, within- and between-subjects, crossover, proof-of-concept trial to examine the effects of oxytocin (40 international units) on a cue-induced craving task (ORT patients only), an Implicit Association Task (IAT), and two social perception tasks: the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task (RMET) and The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT).
Oxytocin was well tolerated by patients receiving ORT but had no significant effects on craving or IAT scores. There was a significant reduction in RMET performance after oxytocin administration versus placebo in the patient group only, and a significant reduction in TASIT performance after oxytocin in both the patient and healthy control groups.
A single dose of intranasal oxytocin is well tolerated by patients receiving ORT, paving the way for future investigations. Despite no significant improvement in craving or IAT scores after a single dose of oxytocin and some evidence that social perception was worsened, further investigation is required to determine the role oxytocin may play in the treatment of opioid use disorder.
Clinical trial registration:
Methadone Oxytocin Option. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01728909.
Full-text · Article · May 2016 · Psychopharmacology
"While the measure has consistently demonstrated sensitivity in the detection of higher order social cognition impairments in Australian-based clinical samples (consisting mainly of Caucasian and monolingual individuals) (e.g., Honan et al., 2015; Kumfor et al., 2014), it also has demonstrated sensitivity to detect impairments in various clinical conditions in other English-speaking countries including the USA, UK, and Canada. The various clinical groups examined in these non-Australian populations have included stroke (Cooper et al., 2013), multiple sclerosis (Genova, Cagna, Chiaravalloti, DeLuca, & Lengenfelder, 2015), schizophrenia and schizotypy (Deptula & Bedwell, 2015; Green et al., 2012; Kern et al., 2009; Mathews & Barch, 2010; Woolley et al., 2014), bv-FTD (Kipps et al., 2009; Shany-Ur et al., 2012), supranuclear palsy (Shany-Ur et al., 2012), older adults (Phillips et al., 2015), microdeletion syndrome (22q11DS) (Jalbrzikowski et al., 2014), undergraduate female students with an eating disorder (Ridout, Thom, & Wallis, 2010), individuals who have undergone hemispherectomy due to epilepsy (Fournier et al., 2008), and Parkinson's disease (Pell et al., 2014 ). TASIT has also been used in bilingual-speaking populations including healthy adolescents with a range of language backgrounds (McDonald et al., 2015). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Objective:
The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT) is an ecologically valid test of complex social perception. Despite its utility for detecting social perception deficits in clinical groups, its lengthy administration time has limited its routine use in clinical practice. This paper describes the development and validation of a shortened version of the TASIT (TASIT-S) in 160 individuals (males = 129) with moderate to severe acquired brain injury (ABI).
Both Rasch and confirmatory factor analysis modeling were used to create the TASIT-S, which, consistent with the original test, included the following subtests: (1) Emotion Evaluation Test (10 items), assessing basic emotion recognition; (2) Social Inference (Minimal) Test (9 items), assessing understanding of sincere and sarcastic exchanges; and (3) Social Inference (Enriched) Test (9 items), assessing comprehension of lies and sarcasm.
The TASIT-S demonstrated excellent construct validity as evidenced by its high correlations with the original TASIT and correlations with social cognition and cognitive neuropsychological measures. Importantly, the TASIT-S also successfully differentiated between ABI participants and healthy controls (n = 43).
The new shortened version of the TASIT is a promising new tool with excellent psychometric properties that can assist clinicians with the detection of complex social perception deficits in ABI.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · The Clinical Neuropsychologist
"Emotion deficits in FTLD are diverse and multidimensional: deficits may affect the cognitive processing of emotional cues in the verbal, visual, auditory or chemosensory modalities and extend across emotion categories (Snowden et al., 2001; Keane et al., 2002; Rosen et al., 2002; Werner et al., 2007; Bedoin et al., 2009; Omar et al., 2011a,b; Kumfor et al., 2011; Rohrer et al., 2012; Hsieh et al., 2012a; Kumfor and Piguet, 2012) and the processing of both elementary emotions and more complex prosocial sentiments (Moll et al., 2011 ). Impaired processing of emotional signals is often mirrored by abnormal emotional behaviours exhibited by patients themselves and correlates both with impaired understanding of others' mental states (Snowden et al., 2001; Kipps et al., 2009; Shany-Ur et al., 2012) and with altered autonomic reactivity (Werner et al., 2007; Eckart et al., 2012; Balconi et al., 2015) , consistent with the targeting of distributed neural networks that process emotion by the proteinopathies that underpin FTLD (Omar et al., 2011a,b; Virani et al., 2013; Woolley et al., 2015). Limited evidence suggests that particular emotion categories or emotion modalities may be differentially affected in FTLD (Snowden et al., 2001; Kumfor et al., 2013; Lindquist et al., 2014; Oliver et al., 2015 ). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: art may signal emotions independently of a biological or social carrier: it might therefore constitute a test case for defining brain mechanisms of generic emotion decoding and the impact of disease states on those mechanisms. This is potentially of particular relevance to diseases in the frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) spectrum. These diseases are often led by emotional impairment despite retained or enhanced artistic interest in at least some patients. However, the processing of emotion from art has not been studied systematically in FTLD. Here we addressed this issue using a novel emotional valence matching task on abstract paintings in patients representing major syndromes of FTLD (behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, n=11; sematic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA), n=7; nonfluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA), n=6) relative to healthy older individuals (n=39). Performance on art emotion valence matching was compared between groups taking account of perceptual matching performance and assessed in relation to facial emotion matching using customised control tasks. Neuroanatomical correlates of art emotion processing were assessed using voxel-based morphometry of patients' brain MR images. All patient groups had a deficit of art emotion processing relative to healthy controls; there were no significant interactions between syndromic group and emotion modality. Poorer art emotion valence matching performance was associated with reduced grey matter volume in right lateral occopitotemporal cortex in proximity to regions previously implicated in the processing of dynamic visual signals. Our findings suggest that abstract art may be a useful model system for investigating mechanisms of generic emotion decoding and aesthetic processing in neurodegenerative diseases.