Associations between TBI, facial emotion recognition, impulse control and aggression in delinquent and vulnerable young people
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Objectives: There is evidence that childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with increased risk of offending and violent crime. This study aimed to explore associations between TBI in a group of delinquent and vulnerable young people (VYP) at risk of offending, and facial emotion recognition (FER) abilities, inhibition control (Stop-IT) and self-reported reactive-proactive aggression (RPQ). Methods: There were two studies. The first study used a cross sectional between group design to compare 45 VYP (with and without TBI) and a control group of 59 students on FER task measuring emotion recognition accuracy of six basic emotions. The second study examined differences between TBI and non-TBI groups in the VYP sample (N=21) on a Stop-IT task, FER accuracy and self-reported reactive-proactive aggression. Results: A history of TBI was reported by 60% of the VYP group (48.9% with loss of consciousness [LoC]), whereas 30% of the control group reported a history of TBI (25.4% with LoC). The VYP group (with and without TBI) demonstrated a similar pattern of reduced overall FER accuracy that was significantly different to the control group. Compared to the control group, The VYP groups (with and without TBI) were less accurate on recognising anger, disgust, sadness and surprise, but not happy and fear. There were no significant differences between the TBI- and non-TBI groups. The second study did not find any significant differences between the TBI and non-TBI groups on overall FER accuracy, Stop-IT performance, and RPQ scores. There were also no significant associations between these measures. Conclusions: Future research requires larger samples that enable investigating the association between different severity of TBI, FER and inhibition control ability. Better and more youth-friendly measures are also needed.