The effect of traumatic brain injury on social decision making
Introduction. Patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) can present difficulties in making decisions of a social nature. Such difficulties condition complicate their personal relationships.
Aims. To assess social decision-making in a sample of patients with moderate and severe TBI, and to empirically contrast if, as Ochsner’s social-emotional processing model proposes, the ability to recognize and respond to socio-affective stimuli is related to the ability to regulate sensitive responses to the context based on the proposed assessment tests.
Subjects and methods. Twenty-one patients with a moderate and severe TBI (experimental group) matched by gender, age and years of education with 24 healthy subjects (control group). Social decision making was measured through the Social Decision Making Test (SDMT), and the ability to recognize and respond to socio-affective stimuli through the Pictures of Facial Affect (PoFA) test.
Results. Statistically significant differences in the SDMT were obtained between the experimental group and the control group. Regarding PoFA, the performance of the control group was also significantly better than that of the experimental group. However, no relationship was observed between the performance in the SDMT and the PoFA for any of the groups.
Conclusions. The SDMT seems to be a sensitive test to detect alterations in social decision making in patients with moderate or severe TBI. No relationship was observed between the results in the SDMT and the PoFA.
Key words. Assessment. Neuropsychology. Social cognition. Social decision making. Traumatic brain injury.