Examining the effect of spinal cord injury on emotional awareness, expressivity and memory for emotional material



Deady DK, North NT, Allan D, Law Smith MJ & O'Carroll R (2010) Examining the effect of spinal cord injury on emotional awareness, expressivity and memory for emotional material. Psychology, Health and Medicine, 15 (4), pp. 406-419.

The prevailing view on the effects of spinal cord injury (SCI) on emotion is that it dampens emotional experience due to a loss of peripheral bodily feedback, with the higher the lesion on the spinal cord the greater the reduction in the intensity of emotional experience. This view persists despite many studies showing an absence of such an emotional impairment in people with SCI. This study specifically aimed to investigate whether total cervical-6 spinal cord transection (i) reduces emotional expressivity and emotional awareness (ii) impairs memory for emotional material. The study contained 3 groups: 24 patients with SCI, 20 control patients with orthopaedic injury (OIC) and 20 young adult controls. A mixed factor design was employed to examine between group and within subject differences. Participants completed the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS), the Berkeley Expressivity Questionnaire (BEQ), and viewed an emotionally arousing slide presentation. Thirty minutes post viewing, participants completed memory tests for the presentation. SCI patients reported greater present levels of emotional expressivity compared with perceived levels prior to their injury. SCI and OIC groups did not differ on any of the emotional awareness variables. There was also no evidence that SCI leads to impairment in memory for emotional events. This study’s findings contradict the mainstream view in the cognitive neuroscience of emotion that SCI dampens emotional experience.

spinal cord injury; emotion; awareness; expressivity; memory; Spinal cord Wounds and injuries; Spinal Cord Injuries nursing; Rehabilitation Nursing; Nurse-Patient Relations

Psychology, Health and Medicine: Volume 15, Issue 4

Publication date31/08/2010
Date accepted by journal01/01/1990
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)

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Professor Ronan O'Carroll
Professor Ronan O'Carroll

Professor, Psychology

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