In MS, Anxiety, Cognitive Fatigue May Affect Visual Memory

woman stress confused
woman stress confused
Cognitive fatigue and anxiety are common symptoms reported by patients with multiple sclerosis.

Anxiety and severe cognitive fatigue may contribute to problems with visual learning in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to research presented at the 2017 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Annual Meeting, May 24-27 in New Orleans.

According to investigators from Yeshiva University in Bronx, New York, cognitive fatigue and anxiety are common in the MS population. Anxiety has been found to be associated with fatigue in MS, as well as impairments in processing speed, attention, and visual memory in the general population. Cognitive fatigue has also been found to be associated with problems with concentration and attention; however, how these factors affect visual learning in people with MS has not been studied.

A total of 112 patients with MS who underwent a full neuropsychological evaluation were included in the study. Anxiety was measured by self-report and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and cognitive fatigue was measured using the cognitive subscale of the Fatigue Scale for Motor and Cognitive Functions. Patients also underwent the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised (BVMT).

After controlling for age and years of education, the investigators observed a significant effect of severe cognitive fatigue on visual learning (Wilks’ lambda = .903, F[3,104] = 3.715, P =.014). Severe cognitive fatigue also demonstrated a significant effect on BVMT trial 2 (F = 5.529, P =.021) but not trial 1 (F = 3.408, P =.068) or trial 3 (F = 35.702, P =.662). While controlling for severe cognitive fatigue, anxiety was found to have a significant effect on visual learning as well (Wilks’ lambda = .877, F[3,104] = 4.870, P =.003), with significance observed in all 3 BVMT trials (BVMT 1 [F = 13.060, P <.001], BVMT 2 [F = 9.935, P =.002], and BVMT 3 [F = 4.394, P =.038]).

Overall, patients with MS who report cognitive fatigue and anxiety may struggle with visual learning and therefore may be candidates for intervention.

Disclosures: Dr Foley reports receiving consulting fees from Biogen Idec and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.

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Altaras C, Vissicchio NA, Parker AA, et al. The impact of severe cognitive fatigue and anxiety on multiple sclerosis patients’ visual learning. Presented at: 2017 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Annual Meeting. May 24-27, 2017; New Orleans, LA. Abstract NE02.