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Objectives: Previous research has demonstrated an association between emotion recognition and apathy in several neurological conditions involving fronto-striatal pathology, including Parkinson’s disease and brain injury. In line with these findings, we aimed to determine whether apathetic participants with early Huntington’s disease (HD) were more impaired on an emotion recognition task compared to non-apathetic participants and healthy controls. Methods: We included 43 participants from the TRACK-HD study who reported apathy on the Problem Behaviours Assessment – short version (PBA-S), 67 participants who reported no apathy, and 107 controls matched for age, sex, and level of education. During their baseline TRACK-HD visit, participants completed a battery of cognitive and psychological tests including an emotion recognition task, the Hospital Depression and Anxiety Scale (HADS) and were assessed on the PBA-S. Results: Compared to the non-apathetic group and the control group, the apathetic group were impaired on the recognition of happy facial expressions, after controlling for depression symptomology on the HADS and general disease progression (Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale total motor score). This was despite no difference between the apathetic and non-apathetic group on overall cognitive functioning assessed by a cognitive composite score. Conclusions: Impairment of the recognition of happy expressions may be part of the clinical picture of apathy in HD. While shared reliance on frontostriatal pathways may broadly explain associations between emotion recognition and apathy found across several patient groups, further work is needed to determine what relationships exist between recognition of specific emotions, distinct subtypes of apathy and underlying neuropathology. (JINS, 2019, 25, 453–461)
Social cognition can be impaired in a range of neuro-degenerative conditions, yet the impact of these difficulties on behaviour and social relationships is not yet fully understood. This study assessed social cognition in 27 participants with Dementia of the Alzheimer Type (DAT) and their co-residing partners (N = 27) and explored the relationships between social cognition, cognitive ability, relationship continuity and behaviour following diagnosis. In line with previous research, participants with dementia scored lower on social cognition tasks compared to their partners. Behaviour changes such as apathy, disinhibition and agitation in participants with dementia were significantly related to relationship continuity; however, no significant associations were found with measures of social cognition. The results of this study are discussed within a therapeutic context and in line with current guidelines and policies.
Social disinhibition difficulties are common following traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, clinically sensitive tools to objectively assess the difficulties are lacking. This study aimed to pilot a new clinical measure of social disinhibition, the social disinhibition task (SDT). Whether social disinhibition is dependent on the type of social information judgements required and whether disinhibited responses can be adjusted with additional guidance were also examined. Participants were 31 adults (25 Male) with moderate-to-severe TBI and 22 adult (17 Male) healthy control participants. Participants viewed scenes of complex social situations and were asked to describe a character in them (Part A), describe a character while inhibiting inappropriate or negative responses (Part B), and describe a character while not only inhibiting negative responses, but also providing positive responses (Part C). One-half of the items contained a faux pas requiring participants to make inferences about a character's mental state. TBI and control participants responded similarly to Part A, although control participants responded less positively than TBI participants in the faux pas items. TBI participants were significantly impaired on Part B indicating they experienced difficulties in inhibiting automatic responding. TBI participants were however able to adjust their responding in Part C so that they respond similarly to the control participants. Between group differences were not detected in reaction time. Overall, the SDT appears to be suitable to detect social inhibition difficulties in clinical settings and provides a new direction for remediation of the difficulties in individuals with TBI.
Objectives: The current study aimed to determine whether reversal learning impairments and feedback-related negativity (FRN), reflecting reward prediction error signals generated by negative feedback during the reversal learning tasks, were associated with social disinhibition in a group of participants with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Methods: Number of reversal errors on a social and a non-social reversal learning task and FRN were examined for 21 participants with TBI and 21 control participants matched for age. Participants with TBI were also divided into low and high disinhibition groups based on rated videotaped interviews. Results: Participants with TBI made more reversal errors and produced smaller amplitude FRNs than controls. Furthermore, participants with TBI high on social disinhibition made more reversal errors on the social reversal learning task than did those low on social disinhibition. FRN amplitude was not related to disinhibition. Conclusions: These results suggest that impairment in the ability to update behavior when social reinforcement contingencies change plays a role in social disinhibition after TBI. Furthermore, the social reversal learning task used in this study may be a useful neuropsychological tool for detecting susceptibility to acquired social disinhibition following TBI. Finally, that the FRN amplitude was not associated with social disinhibition suggests that reward prediction error signals are not critical for behavioral adaptation in the social domain. (JINS, 2016, 21, 303–313)
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