Kessler Foundation researchers develop behavioral treatment for deficits of facial affect recognition in multiple sclerosis

female scientist
Dr. Genova is associate director of

the Center for Autism Research

and an expert in the study of

social cognition

 

EMOPRINT, an emotional processing intervention, improved facial affect recognition in individuals with MS in blinded, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial

East Hanover, NJ. April 12, 2022. A recent study by Kessler Foundation researchers demonstrated efficacy for the behavioral intervention, EMOPRINT, for treating deficits of facial recognition in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). The article, "Emotional processing intervention (EMOPRINT): A blinded randomized control trial to treat facial affect recognition deficits in multiple sclerosis," was epublished on January 19, 2022, by Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. The study is the first to provide Class I evidence supporting the efficacy of an intervention to treat these deficits in MS.

The authors are Helen M. Genova, PhD, Katie Lancaster, PhD, Zuzanna Myszko, Jimmy Morecraft, Jacqueline Leddy, Angela Smith, MA, Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and Jean Lengenfelder, PhD, of Kessler Foundation. Link to abstract: https://tinyurl.com/mfvw693f

Researchers compared 21 individuals with MS with 15 placebo controls in this double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of EMOPRINT, a five-week, 12-session behavioral intervention for teaching facial recognition of the six universal emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust. Participants underwent baseline and follow-up neuropsychological assessments of facial affect recognition, as well as assessments of quality of life and emotional functioning. At follow up, facial affect recognition skills significantly improved in the MS group compared with the placebo group.

The efficacy of EMOPRINT has important implications for individuals with MS, as well as for other populations that experience deficits of facial recognition, including autism, traumatic brain injury, and schizophrenia. Deficits in facial recognition, which are known to hinder social functioning, are often associated with mood disorders and reduced quality of life, according to lead author Dr. Genova, the Foundation’s associate director of the Center for Autism Research and an expert in the study of social cognition.

“Improving facial recognition may improve interpersonal relationships and lead to better outcomes at home and in the workplace,” she added. “The success of EMOPRINT in this MS study is an important first step toward the larger-scale, longer-term studies of social cognition we need to study these potential effects.”

Funding: National Multiple Sclerosis Society (RG-1507-05353)

Learn more about ongoing studies for MS and other conditions at Join Our Research Studies | Kessler Foundation. Send inquiries about research participation to [email protected]

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

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