The truth about cognitive impairment in functional motor symptoms: An experimental deception study with the Guilty Knowledge Task

Benedetta Demartini, Roberta Ferrucci, Diana Goeta, Fabiana Ruggiero, Armando D'Agostino, Alberto Priori, Orsola Gambini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: A century ago, Janet was the first to conceptualize conversion reactions as having a neurocognitive component, as disorders of memory processing that arise in the wake of trauma. The available evidence suggests that this impairment might arise from dysfunction in the fronto-subcortical circuits. Our aim was to examine the cognitive functions regulating deception in patients with functional motor symptoms (FMS), using a computerised task, the Guilty Knowledge Task (GKT). We also tested a group of healthy subjects (HS)as a control group. Materials and methods: Thirteen patients affected by FMS and 14 HS underwent a modified version of the GKT, a computer-controlled procedure used to detect truthful and deceptive responses. All participants were also screened for depression, anxiety, alexithymia and for moral sense (moral judgment task). Results: The reaction times (RTs)were significantly longer for lie responses than for true responses (F(1,26)= 50.47; p < 0.001)in the two groups. Total RTs were significantly longer for patients with FMS than for HS, in true responses (F(1,25)= 4,36; p = 0.047)and lie responses (F(1,25)= 4.26; p = 0.05). No differences were found between the two groups for accuracy in producing true responses (F(1,25)= 0.09, p = 0.77), and lie responses (F(1,25)= 0,12, p = 0.73. Conclusions: When tested with the GKT, patients with FMS were slower than HS in producing truthful and lying responses. Current knowledge along with our new findings in patients with FMS – possibly arising from individually unrecognised extremely mild, cognitive difficulties – should help in designing specific rehabilitative programmes to improve cognitive and behavioural disturbances in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-179
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Volume64
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)

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