ABILITY TO PRODUCE EMOTIONAL FACIAL EXPRESSIONS FOLLOWING CLOSED HEAD INJURY
Previous research has shown a decline in psychosocial functioning in persons with closed head injury (CHI), which decline is manifested in diminished social networks, reduced employment and a sense of loneliness and depression. Several research groups linked the observed deficits in psychosocial functioning to reduced interpersonal communication skills and, more specifically, to an impaired ability to recognize emotions in others, both from faces and voices. Because human communication is a two-way process, being able to produce unambiguous and appropriate facial expressions is as important as being able to read facial expressions of others. In our study, we compared 30 persons with a history of CHI with 20 uninjured volunteers in their abilities to produce emotional facial expressions by having judges label the expressions made by participants in response to cartoons depicting emotion-provoking situations. The results indicated that judges failed to identify facial expressions of the CHI group significantly more often than they did while labeling facial expressions in the control group. Therefore, we concluded that the ability to produce facial emotional expressions is impaired in the CHI group.