People with multiple sclerosis (MS) may have cognitive defects that cannot be detected using conventional paper-and-pen tests but that can be assessed with computer-based tests, a new study shows.
The findings also indicate that people with MS may be more susceptible to cognitive impairment when the brain has to address increased task demands.
An estimated 40%–70% of people with MS will experience some form of cognitive impairment, with the most common being reduced information processing speed (IPS) — which is the speed at which the brain can make sense of and respond to new information.
Traditionally, reduced IPS has been measured using pencil-and-paper tests, such as the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT). However, these tests may not be sensitive enough to detect relatively small impairments.
A growing body of research suggests that computer-based tests can be used to more sensitively measure delayed IPS in people with MS.
Now, researchers at the University of Verona, in Italy, created a tablet-based video game to measure IPS.
“Testing IPS in different cognitive load conditions by using computerized tools might reveal initial IPS slowness underestimated by classic paper-and-pencil tests,” the team wrote.
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