Neurocognitive function in patients with idiopathic Restless Legs Syndrome before and after treatment with dopamine-agonist

Andrea Galbiati, Sara Marelli, Enrico Giora, Marco Zucconi, Alessandro Oldani, Luigi Ferini-Strambi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although a huge amount of clinical evidence for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is present in literature, an exhaustive account of cognitive profile in RLS patients is still lacking. In this study we evaluated the neurocognitive function in RLS patients and the effects of a three-month treatment with a dopamine agonist (pramipexole) at low doses.Clinical and polysomnographic characteristics, cognitive abilities, quality of life and psychological clinical indices were assessed in 20 RLS patients and 15 age-matched controls. The neurocognitive results, obtained by untreated RLS patients (baseline), were firstly compared to those of controls and then to those of the same RLS group after treatment (follow-up). Increased Total Sleep Time, Slow Wave Sleep, Sleep Efficiency and decreased Sleep Latency, Wake After Sleep Onset and periodic leg movement index were found by polysomnographic recording after a three-month treatment.Results showed that cognitive functions, impaired at baseline when compared to control subjects, improved after the pharmacological treatment, reaching the scores of healthy subjects. Decision making, problem solving and categorizing abilities, investigated by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), resulted lower in RLS patients at baseline than in controls. All these functions improved after pharmacological treatment, as well as quality of life, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and daytime sleepiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-309
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Decision making
  • Dopamine agonists
  • Neurocognitive tests
  • Quality of life
  • RLS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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