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Volume 42, Number 1, January/February 2005
Pages 29 — 34

Abstract - Event-related potential in facial affect recognition: Potential clinical utility in patients with traumatic brain injury

Henry L. Lew, MD, PhD;1-2* John H. Poole, PhD;2 Jerry Y. P. Chiang, MD;3 Eun Ha Lee, MD;1 Elaine S. Date, MD;1 Deborah Warden, MD4

1Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA, 1-2Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Palo Alto, CA; 3Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA; 4Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, DC
Abstract — Traumatic brain injury (TBI) frequently leads to deficits in social behavior. Prior research suggests that such deficits may result from impaired perception of basic social cues. However, these social-emotional deficits have not been studied electrophysiologically. We measured the P300 event-related potential (ERP), which has been shown to be a sensitive index of cognitive efficiency, in 13 patients with a history of moderate to severe TBI and in 13 healthy controls. The P300 response was measured during detection of 30 pictures of angry faces (rare target) randomly distributed among 120 neutral faces (frequent nontarget). Compared to control subjects, the TBI group's P300 responses were significantly delayed in latency (p = 0.002) and lower in amplitude (p = 0.003). TBI patients also showed slower reaction times and reduced accuracy when manually signaling their detection of angry faces. Coefficients of variation (CVs) for the facial P300 response compared favorably to those of many standard clinical assays, suggesting potential clinical utility. For this study, we demonstrated the feasibility of studying TBI patients' P300 responses during the recognition of facial affect. Compared to controls, TBI patients showed significantly impaired electrophysiological and behavioral responses while attempting to detect affective facial cues. Additional studies are required for clinicians to determine whether this measure is related to patients' psychosocial function in the community.
Key words: affect recognition, brain injury, cognition, electroencephalograph, emotional processing, event-related potential, social perception.

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  Last Reviewed or Updated Tuesday, June 28, 2005 10:33 AM