Cognitive dysfunctions in multiple sclerosis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Cognitive functions are frequently interested by the MS pathological processes, with reported percentages of impaired patients ranging from 45 to 70. These dysfunctions cause important limitations in familiar and social relations as well in occupational activities. After a long period of neglect, the interest of researchers and clinicians in cognitive functioning of MS patients has constantly increased in the last 30 years. Actually, we know that some cognitive domains (complex attention, information processing speed, working memory, memory and learning, executive and visuo-spatial functions) are more frequently involved than others (basic attention, language, general intelligence). Recent research has explored in more detail the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of cognitive dysfunctions: impairment of both encoding and retrieval processes seem to cause the memory and learning disturbances so frequently identified in MS patients; dysfunction of information processing speed appears as the most frequent and early consequence of MS related damage and neuropsychological tests exploring, like Symbol Digit Modalities Test, processing speed seem the tool most sensitive to the presence of cognitive impairment; visuo-spatial cognitive functions are involved more frequently than previously believed, also in patients without significant visual functions' impairment; language and general intelligence should be explored more deeply before being sure that they are relatively spared. Even if important progresses in the identification and understanding of cognitive functioning in MS patients have been made, investigations must continue, because a deeper knowledge of these aspects will increase the possibility to find strategies for the remediation of the consequences of cognitive dysfunctions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeuropsychiatric Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Italia s.r.l.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9788847026766, 884702675X, 9788847026759
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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