Cognitive dysfunction in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: can we predict it?

Fabiola De Marchi, Claudia Carrarini, Antonio De Martino, Luca Diamanti, Antonio Fasano, Antonino Lupica, Mirella Russo, Simone Salemme, Edoardo Gioele Spinelli, Alessandro Bombaci

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIM: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the degeneration of both upper and lower motoneurons in the brain and spinal cord leading to motor and extra-motor symptoms. Although traditionally considered a pure motor disease, recent evidences suggest that ALS is a multisystem disorder. Neuropsychological alterations, in fact, are observed in more than 50% of patients: while executive dysfunctions have been firstly identified, alterations in verbal fluency, behavior, and pragmatic and social cognition have also been described. Detecting and monitoring ALS cognitive and behavioral impairment even at early disease stages is likely to have staging and prognostic implications, and it may impact the enrollment in future clinical trials. During the last 10 years, humoral, radiological, neurophysiological, and genetic biomarkers have been reported in ALS, and some of them seem to potentially correlate to cognitive and behavioral impairment of patients. In this review, we sought to give an up-to-date state of the art of neuropsychological alterations in ALS: we will describe tests used to detect cognitive and behavioral impairment, and we will focus on promising non-invasive biomarkers to detect pre-clinical cognitive decline.

CONCLUSIONS: To date, the research on humoral, radiological, neurophysiological, and genetic correlates of neuropsychological alterations is at the early stage, and no conclusive longitudinal data have been published. Further and longitudinal studies on easily accessible and quantifiable biomarkers are needed to clarify the time course and the evolution of cognitive and behavioral impairments of ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2211-22
Number of pages12
JournalNeurol. Sci.
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 27 2021


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