The objective of this study is to evaluate the relationship between social cognition (SC) and cognitive impairment in persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). A prospective study was conducted in 60 PwMS, 30 with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), 15 with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and 15 with primary progressive MS (PPMS), and in healthy subjects (HS). All subjects were assessed by the Bordeaux Social Cognition Evaluation Protocol (PECS-B) (facial emotion recognition, theory of mind, emotional awareness and cognitive and affective alexithymia), by a large neuropsychological battery and by questionnaires (depression and anxiety). 43.3% of PwMS were impaired for at least one SC test. The proportion of PwMS with at least two impaired SC tests was similar in all three phenotypes (20%). Mean scores differed significantly between PwMS and HS only for the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, a test of Theory of Mind (ToM). ANOVA analyses showed an effect of phenotype on emotional awareness scores with lower scores in PPMS as compared to RRMS. ToM performance was significantly correlated (r2 = 0.56) with executive functions, working memory and episodic memory scores. SC impairment was found in all phenotypes and was more prominent in cognitively impaired MS patients. Executive functions, and working and episodic memory performance accounts for approximately 50% of ToM performance. Emotional awareness is more impaired in progressive MS.
Multiple sclerosis Cognition Social cognition Theory of mind Executive function
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Our research group is part of TRAIL, cluster of excellence (ANR-10-LABX-57). This project was supported by a grant from Ligue Française de la Sclérose en Plaques.
Conflicts of interest
The authors did not report disclosures relevant to the present publication. Pr Brochet or its institution received research grants and/or consulting fees from Biogen, Bayer-Healthcare, Novartis, Genzyme, Roche, Medday, Merck-Serono, Actelion and Teva. C Dulau received a travel grant from Teva. M Deloire, H Diaz, A Saubusse, J Charre-Morin, and A Prouteau have nothing to disclose.
The study was conducted at the MS clinic of the Bordeaux University Hospital between March 2013 and June 2014 according to the declaration of Helsinki. Bordeaux ethical committee (Comité de protection des personnes) has approved the use of human subjects for this study.
All patients and subjects gave informed written consent.
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