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Differential impairment in recognition of emotion across different media in people with severe traumatic brain injury



Recent evidence suggests that there may be dissociable systems for recognizing emotional expressions from different media including audio and visual channels, and still versus moving displays. In this study, 34 adults with severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and 28 adults without brain injuries were assessed for their capacity to recognize emotional expressions from dynamic audiovisual displays, conversational tone alone, moving facial displays, and still photographs. The TBI group were significantly impaired in their interpretation of both audio and audiovisual displays. In addition, eight of the 34 were significantly impaired in their capacity to recognize still facial expressions. In contrast, only one individual was impaired in the recognition of moving visual displays. Information processing speed was not found to play a significant role in producing problems with dynamic emotional expression. Instead the results suggest that visual moving displays may enlist different brain systems to those engaged with still displays, for example, the parietal cortices. Problems with the processing of affective prosody, while present, were not clearly related to other emotion processing problems. While this may attest to the independence of the auditory affective system, it may also reflect problems with the dual demands of listening to conversational meaning and affective tone. (JINS, 2005, 11, 392–399.)


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Reprint requests to: Professor Skye McDonald, School of Psychology, University of NSW, Sydney, 2052, NSW, Australia. E-mail: s.mcdonald@


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