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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Differential cognitive impairment for diverse forms of multiple sclerosis

Javier J Gonzalez-Rosa12*, Manuel Vazquez-Marrufo2, Encarnacion Vaquero2, Pablo Duque1, Monica Borges1, Miguel A Gamero1, Carlos M Gomez2 and Guillermo Izquierdo1

Author Affiliations

1 Multiple Sclerosis Unit, Virgen Macarena Hospital, Avda Dr Fedriani s/n, 41009 Seville, Spain

2 Laboratory of Psychophysiology, Departament of Experimental Psychology, University of Seville, Camilo Jose Cela s/n, 41018 Seville, Spain

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BMC Neuroscience 2006, 7:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-7-39

Published: 19 May 2006

Abstract

Background

Cognitive impairment is a common feature in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and occurs in 60% of all cases. Unfortunately, neurological examination does not always agree with the neuropsychological evaluation in determining the cognitive profile of the patient. On the other hand, psychophysiological techniques such as event-related potentials (ERPs) can help in evaluating cognitive impairment in different pathologies.

Behavioural responses and EEG signals were recorded during the experiment in three experimental groups: 1) a relapsing-remitting group (RRMS), 2) a benign multiple sclerosis group (BMS) and 3) a Control group. The paradigm employed was a spatial attention task with central cues (Posner experiment). The main aim was to observe the differences in the performance (behavioural variables) and in the latency and amplitude of the ERP components among these groups.

Results

Our data indicate that both MS groups showed poorer task performance (longer reaction times and lower percentage of correct responses), a latency delay for the N1 and P300 component, and a different amplitude for the frontal N1. Moreover, the deficit in the BMS group, indexed by behavioural and pyschophysiological variables, was more pronounced compared to the RRMS group.

Conclusion

The present results suggest a cognitive impairment in the information processing in all of these patients. Comparing both pathological groups, cognitive impairment was more accentuated in the BMS group compared to the RMSS group. This suggests a silent deterioration of cognitive skills for the BMS that is not usually treated with pharmacological or neuropsychological therapy.