An investigation of emotion recognition and theory of mind in people with chronic heart failure

Tina Habota, Skye N. McLennan, Jan Cameron, Chantal F. Ski, David R. Thompson, Peter G. Rendell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Cognitive deficits are common in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF), but no study has investigated whether these deficits extend to social cognition. The present study provided the first empirical assessment of emotion recognition and theory of mind (ToM) in patients with CHF. In addition, it assessed whether each of these social cognitive constructs was associated with more general cognitive impairment. Methods: A group comparison design was used, with 31 CHF patients compared to 38 demographically matched controls. The Ekman Faces test was used to assess emotion recognition, and the Mind in the Eyes test to measure ToM. Measures assessing global cognition, executive functions, and verbal memory were also administered. Results: There were no differences between groups on emotion recognition or ToM. The CHF group's performance was poorer on some executive measures, but memory was relatively preserved. In the CHF group, both emotion recognition performance and ToM ability correlated moderately with global cognition (r =.38,p = .034; r = .49, p = .005, respectively), but not with executive function or verbal memory. Conclusion: CHF patients with lower cognitive ability were more likely to have difficulty recognizing emotions and inferring the mental states of others. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0141607
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

Cite this