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Ayache, Samar S.; Chalah, Moussa A.; Kümpfel, Tania; Padberg, Frank; Lefaucheur, Jean-Pascal; Palm, Ulrich (2017): Emotionserkennung, Theory of Mind und Empathie bei Multipler Sklerose. In: Fortschritte Der Neurologie Psychiatrie, Vol. 85, No. 11: pp. 663-674
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Multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic progressive inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, causes frequent disability, mood disorders, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. As a part of the last, social cognition is frequently disturbed in MS patients. It comprises empathy and social perception of emotions from facial, bodily and vocal cues. Social cognitive deficits worsen affect decoding, interpersonal relationship, and quality of life. Despite the impact of these deficits on global functioning, only a small number of studies have investigated its correlations and overlaps with MS symptoms. This review focuses on the definition and anatomy of social cognition and draws attention to findings of neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies on social cognitive performance in MS. Results of the available studies show that social cognitive deficits are already measurable in early stages of MS. Over time course of the disease, neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies show an increase of disease burden and social and non-social cognitive impairment following the hypothesis of a disconnection syndrome resulting from gray and white matters lesions. These structural changes might exceed a threshold of compensatory restorative and neuroplasticity mechanisms and finally lead to deficits in social cognition. Considering this burden in social functioning, a further assessment of sociocognitive deficits in MS is urgently needed to provide specific therapeutic approaches and to improve quality of life.