Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Lisa J. Rapport


Introduction: Studies have demonstrated that individuals with TBI experience impairments in emotion perception accuracy in facial and auditory modalities but does not yet understand patterns of emotion perception and their relation to neurocognitive performance. The current study assessed why emotion perception deficits occur via psychological and cognitive relationships as well as patterns of emotion misattributions.

Methods: 50 adults with a bona-fide moderate or severe traumatic brain injury and 39 healthy comparison adults were included in the study. Eligible participants completed a battery of paper-and-pencil and computerized neuropsychological measures, including three tasks of emotion perception, and psychological questionnaires.

Results: The TBI group underperformed on auditory and facial emotion perception tasks compared to healthy adults. Patterns of neuropsychological correlates of emotion perception were generally global, but nuanced depending on group membership and modality of emotion perception task. Findings about experienced affect suggest a moderating effect of experienced emotion depending on the intensity and content on facial emotion perception accuracy. Misattribution patterns revealed that individuals in the TBI group demonstrated the highest degree of omission errors compared to healthy adults. Additionally, they tended to observe emotion where there was none (i.e., when presented with neutral stimuli) and see it as negative more often than their healthy counterparts.

Conclusions: The presence of low and high levels of experienced affect, specific neuropsychological relationships, and the pattern of misattribution errors were distinct for persons following TBI compared to their healthy counterparts in auditory and facial modalities of emotion perception. Findings from this current study enable education of providers and loved owes as well as additional research to improve social/interpersonal functioning and quality of life for persons with TBI.