Living Life to the Fullest with MS
Steve Adubato goes on-location to the Kessler Foundation’s "Living Life to the Fullest with MS" event to talk with Helen Genova, Senior Research Scientist in Neuropsychology at Kessler Foundation. Genova shares findings from her research on cognitive dysfunction and the "emotional blindness" experienced by many patients with multiple sclerosis.
"We are speaking with Doctor Helen Genova of Kessler Foundation, also a research assistant professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Doctor, let me ask you, we've been talking here at Kessler Foundation, we have a forum tonight talking about research going on in connection with MS, but the term "emotional blindness" and MS, what exactly does it mean? And why is it so incredibly important? So that's a great question. One of the things that we study here is what's called social cognition, which is really, the ability to understand other people's emotions, what they're feeling, what they're thinking. One of the ways that you can do that is by interpreting the facial expressions of another person, or their body language, or their tone of voice, these are all skills that you and I use everyday to interpret how someone else is feeling. People with MS, however, we're beginning to realize, have significant difficulty in this. So that they may not understand when another person is angry, when another person is sad, and that's what we call social cognition or emotional blindness. What I'm fascinated by already is how would you find that out? You know what? It's very interesting. Not a lot of people know that they have it. What people with MS may be aware of is that they're having interpersonal issues. So for example, someone may come home and feel like their husband doesn't understand them, or that they're having trouble connecting to their best friend in the way that they used to. They may not know why, but really, what could be underlying it is social cognition problems. That you no longer can understand another person's facial expressions and how they're feeling. So what I'm fascinated by is, and what I'm sure a lot of people are wondering right now is, if someone who's dealing with MS is experiencing a lot of what you're talking about, this quote, unquote, "emotional blindness," how would they, in fact, be able to communicate that to those around them if a, they they don't know they have it? And b, they're limited in their ability, or his or her ability, to communicate such a thing? Sure. That's a great question. I think that what we're trying to do here at Kessler is raise awareness of this problem, because people may not know that they have it. But if... For family members and friends? I'm sorry for interrupting. Sure. Family members, friends, and for the patient themself, even the patients themselves may not realize that this is the specific thing that they're struggling with. So what we're trying..."