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Brain-injured patients can relearn emotions
Date:2/10/2009

raining program. It is the first structured intervention designed to treat this disability among those with brain injury.

Recruitment currently is underway at the Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte, N.C., Brock University in St. Catherines, Ont., and Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. Willer and his co-primary investigator, Machiko Tomita, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of rehabilitation sciences, are overseeing the three sites.

Willer's interest in affect recognition was inspired by the PBS series "The Secret Life of the Brain." One of the episodes showed a man watching a horrific scene from a "slasher" movie that would make most viewers cringe. But this man simply was puzzled, recounts Willer, because he couldn't produce the fear emotion and therefore did not understand what was happening. "I was watching that and I thought, 'My gosh! I see that all the time in brain injury."

That television program on the brain set the wheels of Willer's research group in motion. No one had yet developed a program to treat affect recognition. Working with graduate students Barbra Zupan and Dawn Neumann, Willer took two interventions shown to be successful in helping autistic children recognize emotions, modified them to be appropriate for adults with brain injury and tested them in the pilot study.

These interventions, which now are being tested in the three-year trial, are titled "facial affect recognition" (FAR), and "stories of emotional inference" (SEI). Tim Bleiler, an instructional designer in the UB medical school, has put both interventions into a single piece of software ready for the multi-site trial. The new investigation will randomize 108 participants with TBI into one of these two groups or to a control training group (CTG).

Participations in the FAR group, as the facial-affect-recognition name implies, will focus on specific elements of the face. "The research sugges
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
7-166-455-000-1417
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

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