Those who live or know those with traumatic brain injury (TBI) often notice distinctive personality changes. Some comment on the impulsivity or ego-centric nature of the individual.
But research (De Sousa, 2011, as cited in ScienceDaily, 2011) explored these themes with an ingenious experiment.
These findings have a direct bearing on the law and it also raises some interesting questions about culpability.
Researchers tested two groups a control group and an experimental group and utilized electromyography (EMG) to measure the facial muscle movements as well as skin conductance to measure sweat production. Along with this they also used a questionnaire to gauge beforehand the empathy abilities of the participants.
The control group was observed to change facial expressions and mimic the faces of people they saw spontaneously. They also perspired when they observed angry faces.
However, the (TBI) group perspired less than the control group plus they showed less facial mimicry thus adding support to the hypothesis of lessened emotional responsiveness.
The author Arielle De Souse said this about the research:
"This has important implications for understanding the impaired social functioning and poor quality of interpersonal relationships commonly seen as a consequence of TBI, and may be key to comprehending and treating empathy deficits post-injury."