BACKGROUND: Patients with low-grade gliomas (LGG) treated with surgery, generally function well and have a favourable prognosis. However, LGG can affect neurocognitive functioning. To date, little is known about social cognition (SC) in these patients, although impaired SC is related to social-behavioral problems and poor societal participation. Frontal brain areas are important for SC and LGG frequently have a frontal location. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether emotion recognition, a key component of SC, was impaired, and related to general cognition, tumor location laterality, tumor volume and histopathological characteristics in patients with LGG, post-surgery and before start of adjuvant therapy.
METHODS: 121 patients with LGG were matched with 169 healthy controls (HC). Tumor location (including (frontal) subregions; insula, anterior cingulate cortex, lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), orbitofrontal-ventromedial PFC) and tumor volume were determined on MRI scans. Emotion recognition was measured with the Ekman 60 faces test of the Facial Expressions of Emotion-Stimuli and Tests (FEEST).
RESULTS: Patients with LGG performed significantly lower on the FEEST than HC, with 33.1% showing impairment compared to norm data. Emotion recognition was not significantly correlated to frontal tumor location, laterality and histopathological characteristics, and significantly but weakly with general cognition and tumor volume.
CONCLUSIONS: Emotion recognition is impaired in patients with LGG but not (strongly) related to specific tumor characteristics or general cognition. Hence, measuring SC with individual neuropsychological assessment of these patients is crucial, irrespective of tumor characteristics, to inform clinicians about possible impairments, and consequently offer appropriate care.
- emotion recognition | frontal tumor location | low-grade glioma | tumor volume