Profiling social cognition in premanifest Huntington's disease

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society


Cambridge University Press


School of Medical and Health Sciences / Exercise Medicine Research Institute




Turner, K., Bartlett, D., Grainger, S. A., Eddy, C., Reyes, A., Kordsachia, C., ... Cruickshank, T. (2021). Profiling social cognition in premanifest Huntington's disease. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617721000357


Objective: Discrepancies exist in reports of social cognition deficits in individuals with premanifest Huntington's disease (HD); however, the reason for this variability has not been investigated. The aims of this study were to (1) evaluate group- and individual-level social cognitive performance and (2) examine intra-individual variability (dispersion) across social cognitive domains in individuals with premanifest HD. Method: Theory of mind (ToM), social perception, empathy, and social connectedness were evaluated in 35 individuals with premanifest HD and 29 healthy controls. Cut-off values beneath the median and 1.5 × the interquartile range below the 25th percentile (P25 - 1.5 × IQR) of healthy controls for each variable were established for a profiling method. Dispersion between social cognitive domains was also calculated. Results: Compared to healthy controls, individuals with premanifest HD performed worse on all social cognitive domains except empathy. Application of the profiling method revealed a large proportion of people with premanifest HD fell below healthy control median values across ToM ( > 80%), social perception ( > 57%), empathy ( > 54%), and social behaviour ( > 40%), with a percentage of these individuals displaying more pronounced impairments in empathy (20%) and ToM (22%). Social cognition dispersion did not differ between groups. No significant correlations were found between social cognitive domains and mood, sleep, and neurocognitive outcomes. Conclusions: Significant group-level social cognition deficits were observed in the premanifest HD cohort. However, our profiling method showed that only a small percentage of these individuals experienced marked difficulties in social cognition, indicating the importance of individual-level assessments, particularly regarding future personalised treatments.