An increasing amount of research has shown a cerebellar involvement in higher order cognitive functions, including emotional processing and decision-making. However, it has not been investigated whether impairments in facial emotion recognition, which could be a marker of impaired emotional experiences, are related to risky decision-making in these patients. Therefore, we aimed to investigate facial emotion recognition and risky decision-making in these patients as well as to investigate a relationship between these constructs. Thirteen patients with a discrete, isolated, cerebellar lesion as a consequence of a stroke were included in the study. Emotion recognition was assessed with the Facial Expressions of Emotions-Stimuli and Test (FEEST). Risk-taking behavior was assessed with the Action Selection Test (AST). Furthermore, 106 matched healthy controls performed the FEEST and 20 matched healthy controls performed the AST. Compared with healthy controls, patients were significantly worse in the recognition of emotional expressions and they took significantly more risks. In addition, a worse ability to recognize fearful facial expressions was strongly related to an increase in risky decisions in the AST. Therefore, we suggest that tests of emotion recognition should be incorporated into the neuropsychological assessment after cerebellar stroke to boost detection and treatment of these impairments in these patients.
Keywords: Cerebellar stroke; Cerebellum; Facial emotion recognition; Risky decision-making; Social cognition.