Emotion recognition impairments and social well-being following right-hemisphere stroke

Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2022 Aug;32(7):1337-1355. doi: 10.1080/09602011.2021.1888756. Epub 2021 Feb 21.


Accurately recognizing and responding to the emotions of others is essential for proper social communication and helps bind strong relationships that are particularly important for stroke survivors. Emotion recognition typically engages cortical areas that are predominantly right-lateralized including superior temporal and inferior frontal gyri - regions frequently impacted by right-hemisphere stroke. Since prior work already links right-hemisphere stroke to deficits in emotion recognition, this research aims to extend these findings to determine whether impaired emotion recognition after right-hemisphere stroke is associated with worse social well-being outcomes. Eighteen right-hemisphere stroke patients (≥6 months post-stroke) and 21 neurologically healthy controls completed a multimodal emotion recognition test (Geneva Emotion Recognition Test - Short) and reported engagement in social/non-social activities and levels of social support. Right-hemisphere stroke was associated with worse emotion recognition accuracy, though not all patients exhibited impairment. In line with hypotheses, emotion recognition impairments were associated with greater loss of social activities after stroke, an effect that could not be attributed to stroke severity or loss of non-social activities. Impairments were also linked to reduced patient-reported social support. Results implicate emotion recognition difficulties as a potential antecedent of social withdrawal after stroke and warrant future research to test emotion recognition training post-stroke.

Keywords: Emotion recognition; Right-hemisphere; Social activity; Social support; Stroke.

MeSH terms

  • Emotions
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Humans
  • Social Behavior
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / psychology