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Social Cognition in Chiari Malformation Type I: a Preliminary Characterization


Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) is a neurological disorder in which cerebellar tonsils are herniated through the foramen magnum into the spinal canal. A wide spectrum of cognitive deficits underlying this pathology has been reported, but the literature about social cognition is insufficient. Clinical research has pointed out the cerebellar role in Theory of Mind (ToM), indicating that there are several disorders with cerebellar pathology that reveal a poorer performance in social cognition tasks. The main purpose of this study is to compare the performance on ToM tasks between CM-I patients and healthy controls. The protocol includes Faux Pas test, Happé’s Strange Stories test, Ice-Cream Van task, the FEEL test, and the Word Accentuation Test. In order to eliminate the possible influence of covariables, physical pain and anxious-depressive symptomatology have been controlled for. According to the results, CM-I patients performed worse than matched healthy controls on ToM tasks, except for facial emotion recognition. These differences remained even after controlling for the neuropsychiatric variables and physical pain. Thus, it can be suggested that patients with CM-I are impaired in their social skills related to their performance on ToM tasks. These findings can be considered to be a preliminary approach to the specific study of social cognition in relation to CM-I since it is similar to other cerebellar pathologies and to previous literature on the cerebellum’s role in social cognition.

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We thank ChySPA and all of the participants for their involvement in the study and their effort.


This study was funded by a grant from the Education Department of the Basque Government’s ‘Programa Predoctoral de Formación de Personal Investigador No Doctor’ (PRE_2016_1_0099 to Maitane García).

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Correspondence to Maitane García.

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All procedures performed in this study were developed in accordance with the ethical standards and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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García, M., Amayra, I., López-Paz, J.F. et al. Social Cognition in Chiari Malformation Type I: a Preliminary Characterization. Cerebellum (2020).

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  • Chiari malformation type I
  • Cerebellum
  • Social cognition
  • Theory of Mind