Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, degenerative neurological condition. It is
associated with a range of disabling physical, emotional, cognitive, and social sequelae.
It has been demonstrated that people with MS are impaired relative to healthy controls at
recognising emotion from facial expression and prosody. It has also been demonstrated
that other neurological populations are impaired at recognising the emotional states of
others. The present study aimed to further explore the relationship between MS and
emotion recognition from facial expression and ascertain whether impaired recognition of
emotion from facial expression was associated with reports of everyday social
Thirty people with MS were assessed using the Facial Expression of Emotion: Stimuli
and Tests, comprised of the Ekman 60 Faces and the Emotion Hexagon. Their
performance was compared to the published normative data of the FEEST collected from
neurologically healthy controls (n = 227; n = 125 respectively). Each MS participant was
asked to complete a questionnaire about everyday functional behaviour, the Brock
Adaptive Functioning Questionnaire. A parallel version was completed for each MS
participant by a significant other.
The MS group were significantly worse at overall recognition of emotion (p<.001;
p<0.05). Using published cut-off scores, 36.67% of the MS group were classified as
impaired on the Ekman 60 Faces; 23.33% on the Emotion Hexagon, significantly greater
than the than the 5% expected from the normative data (/?<.001). There were also
significant between-group differences on recognition of individual emotions.
BAFQ informant reports of aggression were significantly correlated with recognition of
disgust on both FEEST tests (p = .001). Although several other correlations were
approaching significance, no other significant correlations (i.e. /?<.01) were found.
Scores on the BAFQ were generally low, suggesting few social behaviour impairments in
the current sample.
It was confirmed that people with MS have difficulty recognising emotion from facial
expression but insufficient evidence was found to show that this was related to reported
social behaviour. The implications for further research are discussed, along with a
critique of the methodology.