Recognizing nonverbal cues of affect: An intervention to enhance performance of persons with traumatic brain injury
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Aims . Affect recognition is a skill crucial for guiding appropriate behaviors. Studies have demonstrated that persons with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have more difficulty identifying affect than uninjured peers. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of two interventions at improving emotion perception in adults with TBI. One intervention addressed facial affect recognition ( FAR ), and the other addressed emotional inferences from context ( SEI ). Design . A 2 x 4 mixed design. Participants . Twenty participants with TBI who were at least one year post-injury. They were recruited from hospital and community based rehabilitation facilities throughout Western New York and Southern Ontario. Eleven participants were randomly assigned to the FAR intervention and nine were randomly assigned to the SEI intervention. Outcome measures . (1) Facial Affect; (2) Vocal Affect; (3) Affect from videos; (4) Emotional awareness; and (5) Behavior. There were two pre-tests, a post-test and a two-week follow-up assessment. Training . The FAR intervention is a computer program, which trained participants to attend to relevant facial features and increase emotional awareness. The SEI intervention is a computer program comprised of short stories and questions about the characters' emotions. Training for both interventions was one-hour per day, three times a week and completed in six to nine sessions. Results . FAR participants significantly improved their ability to recognize emotion from faces; their emotional awareness for self and other; and socio-emotional behavior. The SEI group significantly improved self-emotional awareness at follow-up. Conclusion . Emotion perception can be improved in people with TBI with training, despite being many years post-injury. These interventions are clinically practical and believed to be well suited for the TBI population. We believe this study is an important step towards helping persons with TBI to improve their social interactions and relationships.