Profiling Social Cognition in Premanifest Huntington's Disease

Kate Turner, Danielle Bartlett, Sarah A. Grainger, Clare Eddy, Alvaro Reyes, Catarina Kordsachia, Mitchell Turner, Julie C. Stout, Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis, Julie D. Henry, Mel Ziman, Travis Cruickshank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Empathy
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Social behaviour
  • Social cognitive dispersion
  • Social perception
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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