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Smile and sad emotions

Positive emotions are more recognisable to those with focal epilepsy

  • Observational study focusing on social cognition in patients with focal epilepsy.
  • Results found that they had no difficulty identifying positive emotions yet had difficulty identifying negative emotions such as anger, sarcasm and disgust.

The study investigated social cognition in patients with focal epilepsy using a traditional method that copies complex real-world social interaction.

Social cognition looks at how people process, store and apply information about other people and social situations. The way we think about others plays a major role in how we think, feel, and interact with the world around us. Further studies have shown that brain injury or other neurological conditions can adversely affect social judgments and interactions, e.g. those who have temporal lobe epilepsy, which is responsible for language, feelings, emotions and memory may struggle to understand negative emotions because their seizures may disrupt this process.

A team, led by Dr Robert Roth, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Geisel School of Medicine in Dartmouth assessed social cognition in 43 patients with focal epilepsy and 22 healthy controls. Patients and controls completed a video-based social test, which measured basic and advanced social cognition. Participants were asked to watch short videos of people interacting and answer questions about what they believe was occurring.

The results found that participants taking part who had focal epilepsy had no difficulty identifying positive emotions such as happiness yet had difficulty recognising negative emotions such as anger, fear and disgust. The team also discovered that people with focal epilepsy were able to understand sincere exchanges but were less proficient at exchanges, which were seen as insincere or sarcastic.

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Cyber EssentialsFundraising RegulatorYoung Epilepsy is the operating name of The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy (NCYPE).
Registered Charity number 311877 (England and Wales)

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