A study conducted by Kessler Foundation scientists suggests a link between slowed processing speed and deficits in executive function among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Rehabilitation Psychology published the study online ahead of print on August 18.

Study authors included Victoria Leavitt, PhD, Manhattan Memory Center, formerly of Kessler Foundation. Co-authors included foundation scientists Glenn Wylie, DPhil, Denise Krch, PhD, Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, (pictured above) John DeLuca, PhD, and James Sumowski, PhD.

A Kessler Foundation news release states that in order to assess the role of processing speed in deficits of executive function, the scientists compared the performance of tasks with and without the element of processing speed in 50 patients with MS to 28 controls. Disease progression was reportedly estimated by the degrees of cerebral atrophy on neuroimaging.

Chiaravalloti explains that the study results “point to slowed processing speed as the mechanism underlying deficits in executive function. Understanding this association is an important step toward the development of effective cognitive rehabilitation strategies for individuals with MS.  We should focus our efforts on two key domains—processing speed and memory.”

In future studies, additional neuropsychological measures should be includes, she says. Chiaravalloti also notes that researchers also need a focus on the contribution of specific brain pathology, such as frontal atrophy and lesion load, to executive deficits.

Source: Kessler Foundation