Meta-Analysis of Facial Affect Recognition Difficulties After Traumatic Brain Injury

Duncan R. Babbage, Jackki Yim, Barbra Zupan, Dawn Neumann, Machiko R. Tomita, Barry Willer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Objective: Difficulties in communication and social relationships present a formidable challenge for many people after traumatic brain injury (TBI). These difficulties are likely to be partially attributable to problems with emotion perception. Mounting evidence shows facial affect recognition to be particularly difficult after TBI. However, no attempt has been made to systematically estimate the magnitude of this problem or the frequency with which it occurs. Method: A meta-analysis is presented examining the magnitude of facial affect recognition difficulties after TBI. From this, the frequency of these impairments in the TBI population is estimated. Effect sizes were calculated from 13 studies that compared adults with moderate to severe TBI to matched healthy controls on static measures of facial affect recognition. Results: The studies collectively presented data from 296 adults with TBI and 296 matched controls. The overall weighted mean effect size for the 13 studies was -1.11, indicating people with TBI on average perform about 1.1 SD below healthy peers on measures of facial affect recognition. Based on estimation of the TBI population standard deviation and modeling of likely distribution shape, it is estimated that between 13% and 39% of people with moderate to severe TBI may have significant difficulties with facial affect recognition, depending on the cut-off criterion used. Conclusion: This is clearly an area that warrants attention, particularly examining techniques for the rehabilitation of these deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Affect recognition
  • Emotion perception
  • Meta-analysis
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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