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Table of Contents    
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 68  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 99-100

Social Cognition, Disability, and Multiple Sclerosis

1 Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Tyler, University Blvd, Tyler, Texas, USA
2 Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA

Date of Web Publication28-Feb-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Dennis R Combs
Department of Psychology, University of Tulsa, Tulsa
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.279664

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How to cite this article:
Rose III TW, Combs DR, Basso MR. Social Cognition, Disability, and Multiple Sclerosis. Neurol India 2020;68:99-100

How to cite this URL:
Rose III TW, Combs DR, Basso MR. Social Cognition, Disability, and Multiple Sclerosis. Neurol India [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 11];68:99-100. Available from:

The study by Valentina et al. (2020) examined social cognition in a sample of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) that differed in level of disability.[1] Social cognition is defined as the perception, processing, and interpretation of social stimuli.[2] Social cognition is important as it predicts the level of social and community functioning. Many conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar, TBI, and now MS have been shown to have deficits in different aspects of social cognition. Social cognition lies between basic neurocognition and social functioning.[3] Improving social cognition leads to improvement in social and community functioning.[4] Common aspects of social cognition include emotion perception, theory of mind, and attributional style. Tasks often vary on complexity, the amount of information provided, and the level of processing. Impaired social cognition is linked to reduced frontal and temporal lobe function.

In this study, several social cognitive tasks were administered to a group of patients with MS that reported high and low levels of disability. Control subjects were tested and matched on educational levels. Results showed differences in self-kindness and self-judgment on a self-reported measure of empathy. Persons with high levels of disability showed greater self-kindness, probably due to the care they give themselves as their condition worsens. Also, the high disability MS group showed worse scores on two theory-of-mind tasks (Faux Pas and Cartoons) and on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task. Performance differences between the groups on the Reading the Mind task were smaller than those seen on the Faux Pas task. In addition, decreases in performance were less gradual on the Cartoons task than on the others. This variability in performance decline across tests could be indicative of specific neurological insult characteristics.[5] That being said, overall results suggest that more severe impairments in social cognition occur when disability levels are greatest, thus showing a general dose–response relationship. Persons in the low disability MS group performed similarly to healthy controls on certain tasks. These participants appeared to be in the earlier stages of MS, which could account for these findings.

This study adds to existing literature on the variety of impairments in MS research and shows that both neurocognition and social cognition deficits worsen as the disease progresses. The Reading the Mind in the Eyes task has both theory-of-mind features and emotion perception features, which makes it hard to determine what exactly this test was accounting for in this study. Inquiring about social or community functioning would have allowed observations of relationships between social cognitive tasks and real-world outcomes. Also, demonstrating which specific social cognitive domains predict disability status may have enhanced the value of the study. The domains of social cognition could have been broadened to include emotion perception and attributional style, which would be consistent with current definitions of the area. Finally, multiple intervention strategies have shown efficacy in schizophrenia samples that lead to improved social cognition, and a possible next step would be to see if these deficits in MS can be remediated.[6]

  References Top

Valentina IG, Jivko SK, Tsvetanka SG, Peter VM, Lyubomir HH, Lyudmila TP. Social cognition impairments in patients with multiple sclerosis: Comparison with grade of disability. Neurol India 2020;68:94-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
Penn DL, Corrigan PW, Bentall R, Racenstein JM, Newman L. Social cognition in schizophrenia. Psychol Bull 1997;121:114-32.  Back to cited text no. 2
Fett AJ, Viechtbauer W, Dominguez M, Penn DL, van Os J, Krabbendam L. The relationship between neurocognition and social cognition with functional outcomes in schizophrenia: A meta-analysis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2011;35:573-88.  Back to cited text no. 3
Roberts DL, Penn DL, Combs DR. SCIT: Social Cognition and Interaction Training: Therapist Guide. Oxford University Press: New York; 2016.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ignatova V, Todorova L, Surchev J. Social cognition impairments in patients with multiple sclerosis and comparison with imaging studies, disease duration and grade of disability. In: Gonzalez-Quevedo A, editor. Trending Topics in Multiple Sclerosis. InTech; 2016.  Back to cited text no. 5
Combs DR, Adams SD, Penn DL, Roberts DL, Tiegreen JA, Stem P. Social cognition and interaction training for schizophrenia spectrum disorders: Preliminary findings. Schizophrenia Res 2007;91:112-116.  Back to cited text no. 6


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