A comparison of neuropsychological deficits in primary and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis
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Neuropsychological deficits and the relationship to brain pathology were examined in 13 primary progressive (PP) and 12 secondary progressive (SP) multiple sclerosis patients with a similar duration of the progressive phase and comparable physical disability. A battery of neuropsychological tests to assess attention, short-term and working memory was administered to the patients, and their performance was compared to that of 20 healthy controls matched for age and premorbid IQ. Total cerebral lesion load on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging was measured in the patients. Both PP and SP patients performed significantly worse than controls in most of the neuropsychological tests. There were only subtle differences between SP and PP on the working memory task although magnetic resonance imaging lesion load was significantly higher in SP than in PP patients. In this exploratory study only subtle differences in cognitive impairment were detected between SP and PP patients matched for physical disability and relevant illness features. The results also suggest that the severity of cognitive impairment cannot be fully explained by the extent of abnormalities detected on conventional T2-weighted magnetic resonance images, and that other pathological abnormalities such as in normal-appearing white matter are likely to be involved.
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