Social cognition, emotion-regulation and social competence in classical galactosemia patients without intellectual disability

Merel E. Hermans, Gert J. Geurtsen, Carla E.M. Hollak, Mirian C.H. Janssen, Janneke G. Langendonk, Valerie L.V. Merckelbach, Esmee Oussoren, Kim J. Oostrom, Annet M. Bosch*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Classical galactosemia (CG) is an inborn error of galactose metabolism. Many CG-patients suffer from long-Term complications including poor cognitive functioning. There are indications of social dysfunction but limited evidence in the literature. Therefore, this study aims to improve our understanding of social competence in CG by investigating social cognition, neurocognition and emotion-regulation. 


A comprehensive (neuro)psychological test battery including self-and proxy questionnaires was administered to CG-patients without intellectual disability. Social cognition was assessed by facial emotion recognition, Theory of Mind and self-reported empathy. Standardized results were compared to normative data of the general population. 


Data of 23 patients (aged 8-52) were included in the study. On a group-level, CG-patients reported satisfaction with social roles and no social dysfunction despite the self-report of lower social skills. They showed deficits on all aspects of social cognition on both performance tests (emotion-recognition and Theory of Mind) and self-report questionnaires (empathy). Adults had a lower social participation than the general population. Parents reported lower social functioning, less adaptive emotion-regulation and communication difficulties in their children. Individual differences in scores were present. 


This study shows that CG patients without intellectual disability are satisfied with their social competence, especially social functioning. Nevertheless, deficits in social cognition are present in a large proportion of CG-patients. Due to the large variability in scores and discrepancies between self-and proxy-report, an individually tailored, comprehensive neuropsychological assessment including social cognition is advised in all CG-patients. Treatment plans need to be customized to the individual patient.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Neuropsychiatrica
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jan 2024

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