Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 219–235 | Cite as

Social Competence in Children with Brain Disorders: A Meta-analytic Review

  • Tessa B. Kok
  • Wendy J. Post
  • Oliver Tucha
  • Eveline S. J. M. de Bont
  • Willem A. Kamps
  • Annette Kingma


Social competence, i.e. appropriate or effective social functioning, is an important determinant of quality of life. Social competence consists of social skills, social performance and social adjustment. The current paper reviews social skills, in particular emotion recognition performance and its relationship with social adjustment in children with brain disorders. In this review, normal development and the neuro-anatomical correlates of emotion recognition in both healthy children and adults and in various groups of children with brain disorders, will be discussed. A systematic literature search conducted on PubMed, yielded nine papers. Emotion recognition tasks were categorized on the basis of task design and emotional categories to ensure optimal comparison across studies before an explorative meta-analysis was conducted. This meta-analytic review suggests that children with brain disorders show impaired emotion recognition, with the recognition of sad and fearful expressions being most impaired. Performance did not seem to be related to derivative measures of social adjustment. Despite the limited number of studies on a variety of brain disorders and control groups, outcomes were quite consistent across analyses and corresponded largely with the existing literature on development of emotion recognition in typically developing children. More longitudinal prospective studies on emotion recognition are needed to gain insight into recovery and subsequent development of children with distinct brain disorders. This will aid development, selection and implementation of interventions for improvement of social competence and quality of life in children with a brain disorder.


Emotion recognition Social adjustment Social-affective functions Brain tumor Traumatic brain injury Epilepsy 



This review was written as part of a PhD project funded by the Johanna KinderFonds (JKF), the Stichting Rotterdams Kinderrevalidatie Fonds Adriaanstichting (KFA) and Stichting Kinderoncologie Groningen (SKOG). No conflicts of interest are reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tessa B. Kok
    • 1
  • Wendy J. Post
    • 2
  • Oliver Tucha
    • 3
  • Eveline S. J. M. de Bont
    • 1
  • Willem A. Kamps
    • 1
  • Annette Kingma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pediatric Oncology/HematologyUniversity Medical Center GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of OrthopedagogyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Clinical and Developmental NeuropsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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