Emotional Processing in Spontaneous Confabulatory Syndrome After an Acquired Brain Injury
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science
There appears to be some consensus about the fact that a combination of dysexecutive syndrome and memory deficits is the main etiological contributor in the development of Spontaneous Confabulation Syndrome (SCS). The bulk of the pertinent literature explores neuropsychological and neuroanatomical correlates with the syndrome. The current study, however, proposes that there is an intermediate level of analysis missing in this area, namely, emotional processing. The present case study therefore examines the neuropsychological profile of a patient (U.Y.) who developed a SCS after an acquired brain injury (ABI). Assessment comprised intellectual functioning, speed of information processing, memory and executive functioning, but most importantly, it included an examination of his emotional processing. Results show that U.Y.’s psychological profile appears intact and that predictably his neuropsychological assessment suggests executive and memory weakness. Analysis of the content of his confabulations is not suggestive (in contrast to the current literature) of purely compensatory content. His emotional processing assessment indicates: (a) significant differences between the patient’s level of emotional awareness and that reported by his spouse, (b) failure to predict advantageous outcomes in a gambling task, (c) poor performance on emotional lexical and facial identifications. This study does not support propositions regarding the content of the confabulations after an ABI as being compensatory oriented responses. However, clear weaknesses in processing emotional stimuli emerge as an alternative or complementary explanation. It is concluded that assessment of emotional processing, in addition to standardised neuropsychological assessment, should be included in regular psychological screening as this might partly explain the nature of the confabulations.