Disturbance of social cognition after traumatic orbitofrontal brain injury

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 1997;12(2):173-88.


A patient with traumatic orbitomedial frontal lobe damage demonstrated good neurocognitive recovery but a lasting, profound disturbance of emotional regulation and social cognition. Initial neuropsychological findings included a complete anosmia, mildly reduced fluency and disturbed motor regulation. The impairments of fluency and motor regulation resolved, and formal measures of "frontal lobe" functioning were generally intact. However, she remained impaired on tasks requiring the interpretation of social situations, which mirrored her impairment in real life functioning. This disturbance in social cognition appeared related to difficulty appreciating and integrating the relatively subtle social and emotional cues required for the appropriate interpretation of events. The patient's presentation represents an intermediate position between patients with profound neurobehavioral deficits and patients with impaired real-life social cognition despite intact neuropsychological performance following orbitofrontal damage. Variations in the orbitofrontal behavioral syndrome may be related to extent of lesion, time post injury and the course of recovery in different patients.