Being with virtual others: Studying social cognition in temporal lobe epilepsy

Leonhard Schilbach, Mohamad Z. Koubeissi, Nicole David, Kai Vogeley, Eva K. Ritzl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Social cognitive neuroscience has highlighted the importance of frontotemporal neurocircuitry for social cognition. Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) impacts these brain areas and their functional connections and might therefore specifically affect social perceptual and cognitive skills. In the study described here, an established paradigm was used to evaluate the social cognitive skills of female patients with left TLE. Study participants were shown dynamic animations in which virtual characters either looked at the human observer directly or looked away toward someone else, thus manipulating self-involvement. The virtual characters then exhibited different facial expressions that were either socially relevant or arbitrary. Participants were asked to rate the communicative intentions of the virtual character. Patients' ratings of communicative intent appeared to be linked to their own self-involvement in the interaction, whereas healthy volunteers' ratings of facial expressions were independent of self-involvement. Potential mechanisms for the observed differences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-323
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Facial expressions
  • Social cognition
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy
  • Virtual characters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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