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Persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) are at increased risk for cognitive dysfunction. Considering the impact and potential ramifications of cognitive dysfunction, it is important that cognition is routinely assessed in PwMS. Thus, it is also important to identify a screener that is accurate and sensitive to MS-related cognitive difficulties, which can inform decisions for more resource-intensive neuropsychological testing. However, research focused on available self-report screeners has been mixed, such as with the Multiple Sclerosis Neuropsychological Screening Questionnaire (MSNQ). This study aims to clarify the relationship between subjective and objective assessment of cognitive functioning in MS by examining domain-specific performance and intraindividual variability (IIV).
87 PwMS (F = 65, M = 22) completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery which included self- and informant-report measures of neurocognitive functioning. Scores were examined in relation to mean performance on five domains of cognitive functioning and two measures of IIV.
The MSNQ-Self was inversely associated with executive function, verbal memory, and visual memory; it was not associated with IIV. The MSNQ-Informant was inversely associated with executive function and verbal memory, and positively associated with one measure of IIV. The MSNQ-Self showed a correlation of moderate effect size with depression (r = .39) while the MSNQ-Informant did not.
Results suggest that the MSNQ-Self and MSNQ-Informant show similar utility. Our findings also suggest that domains of executive function and memory may be most salient, thus more reflected in subjective reports of cognitive functioning. Future work should further examine the impact of mood disturbance with cognitive performance and IIV.
The current study explored how affective disturbances, particularly concomitant anxiety and depressive symptoms, impact baseline symptom self-reporting on the Post-Concussion Symptoms Scale (PCSS) in college athletes.
Athletes were separated into four groups (Healthy Control (HC) (n = 581), Depression Only (n = 136), Anxiety Only (n = 54), Concomitant Depression/Anxiety (n = 62)) based on their anxiety and depression scores. Groups were compared on Total PCSS Score as well as 5 PCSS Symptom Cluster scores (Cognitive, Physical, Affective, Sleep, and Headache).
The three affective groups reported significantly greater symptomatology than HCs, with the Concomitant group showing the highest symptomatology scores across all clusters. The depressive symptoms only group also reported significantly elevated symptomatology, compared to HCs, on every symptom cluster except headache. The anxiety symptoms only group differed from HCs on only the cognitive symptoms cluster. Additionally, the Concomitant group reported significantly increased PCSS symptomatology, in terms of total scores and all 5 symptom clusters, compared to the depressive symptoms only and anxiety symptoms only groups.
Our findings suggest that athletes experiencing concomitant depressive/anxiety symptoms report significantly greater levels of symptomatology across all 5 PCSS symptom clusters compared to HCs. Further, results suggest that athletes experiencing concomitant affective disturbance tend to report greater symptomatology than those with only one affective disturbance. These findings are important because, despite the absence of concussion, the concomitant group demonstrated significantly elevated symptomatology at baseline. Thus, future comparisons with post-concussion data should account for this increased symptomatology, as test results may be skewed by affective disturbances at baseline.
The oral Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) has become the standard for the brief screening of cognitive impairment in persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). It has been shown to be sensitive to sensory-motor factors involving rudimentary oral motor speed and visual acuity, as well as multiple sclerosis (MS) affective-fatigue factors including depression, fatigue, and anxiety. The present study was designed to provide a greater understanding of these noncognitive factors that might contribute to the oral SDMT by examining all these variables in the same sample.
We examined 50 PwMS and 49 healthy controls (HCs). All participants were administered the oral SDMT, two sensory-motor tasks (visual acuity and oral motor speed), and three affective-fatigue measures (depression, fatigue, and anxiety).
Partially consistent with hypotheses, we found that sensory-motor skills, but not affective-fatigue factors, accounted for some of the group differences between the MS and HC groups on the oral SDMT, reducing the MS/HC group variance predicted from 10% to 4%. Also, PwMS with below average sensory-motor abilities had oral SDMT scores that were lower than PwMS with intact sensory-motor skills (p < .05). Finally, 71% of PwMS in the below-average sensory-motor group were impaired on the oral SDMT compared with 14% of the intact group (p = .006).
When the oral SDMT is used as the sole screening tool for cognitive impairment in MS, clinicians should know that limitations in visual acuity and rudimentary oral motor speed should be considered as possibly being associated with performance on it in MS.
The current study aims to examine the prevalence rates and the relationship of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and comorbid depression/anxiety with neurocognitive performance in college athletes at baseline. We hypothesized a priori that the mood disturbance groups would perform worse than healthy controls, with the comorbid group performing worst overall.
Eight hundred and thirty-one (M = 620, F = 211) collegiate athletes completed a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery at baseline which included self-report measures of anxiety and depression. Athletes were separated into four groups [Healthy Control (HC) (n = 578), Depressive Symptoms Only (n = 137), Anxiety Symptoms Only (n = 54), and Comorbid Depressive/Anxiety Symptoms (n = 62)] based on their anxiety and depression scores. Athletes’ neurocognitive functioning was analyzed via Z score composites of Attention/Processing Speed and Memory.
One-way analysis of variance revealed that, compared to HC athletes, the comorbid group performed significantly worse on measures of Attention/Processing Speed but not Memory. However, those in the depressive symptoms only and anxiety symptoms only groups were not significantly different from one another or the HC group on neurocognitive outcomes. Chi-square analyses revealed that a significantly greater proportion of athletes in all three affective groups were neurocognitively impaired compared to the HC group.
These results demonstrate that collegiate athletes with comorbid depressive/anxiety symptoms should be identified, as their poorer cognitive performance at baseline could complicate post-concussion interpretation. Thus, assessing for mood disturbance at baseline is essential to obtain an accurate measurement of baseline functioning. Further, given the negative health outcomes associated with affective symptomatology, especially comorbidities, it is important to provide care as appropriate.
People with Multiple Sclerosis (PwMS) and healthy controls (HCs) were evaluated on cognitive variability indices and we examined the relationship between fatigue and cognitive variability between these groups. Intraindividual variability (IIV) on a neuropsychological test battery was hypothesized to mediate the group differences expected in fatigue.
Fifty-nine PwMS and 51 HCs completed a psychosocial interview and battery of neuropsychological tests and questionnaires during a 1-day visit. Fatigue in this study was measured with the Fatigue Impact Scale (FIS), a self-report multidimensional measure of fatigue. IIV was operationalized using two different measures, a maximum discrepancy score (MDS) and intraindividual standard deviation (ISD), in two cognitive domains, memory and attention/processing speed. Two mediation analyses with group (PwMS or HCs) as the independent variable, variability composite (memory or attention/processing speed) measures as the mediators, total residual fatigue (after accounting for age) as the outcome, and depression as a covariate were conducted. The Baron and Kenny approach to testing mediation and the PROCESS macro for testing the strength of the indirect effect were used.
Results of a mediation analysis using 5000 bootstrap samples indicated that IIV in domains of both attention/processing speed and memory significantly mediated the effect of patient status on total residual fatigue.
IIV is an objective performance measure that is related to differences in fatigue impact between PwMS and HCs. PwMS experience more variability across tests of attention/processing speed and memory and this experience of variable performance may increase the impact of fatigue.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether loss of consciousness (LOC), retrograde amnesia (RA), and anterograde amnesia (AA) independently influence a particular aspect of post-concussion cognitive functioning—across-test intra-individual variability (IIV), or cognitive dispersion.
Concussed athletes (N = 111) were evaluated, on average, 6.04 days post-injury (SD = 5.90; Mdn = 4 days; Range = 1–26 days) via clinical interview and neuropsychological assessment. Primary outcomes of interest included two measures of IIV—an intra-individual standard deviation (ISD) score and a maximum discrepancy (MD) score—computed from 18 norm-referenced variables.
Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) adjusting for time since injury and sex revealed a significant effect of LOC on the ISD (p = .018, ηp2 = .051) and MD (p = .034, ηp2 = .041) scores, such that athletes with LOC displayed significantly greater IIV than athletes without LOC. In contrast, measures of IIV did not significantly differ between athletes who did and did not experience RA or AA (all p > .05).
LOC, but not RA or AA, was associated with greater variability, or inconsistencies, in cognitive performance acutely following concussion. Though future studies are needed to verify the clinical significance of these findings, our results suggest that LOC may contribute to post-concussion cognitive dysfunction and may be a risk factor for less efficient cognitive functioning.
Sleep deprivation is common among both college students and athletes and has been correlated with negative health outcomes, including worse cognition. As such, the current study sought to examine the relationship between sleep difficulties and self-reported symptoms and objective neuropsychological performance at baseline and post-concussion in collegiate athletes.
Seven hundred seventy-two collegiate athletes completed a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery at baseline and/or post-concussion. Athletes were separated into two groups based on the amount of sleep the night prior to testing. The sleep duration cutoffs for these group were empirically determined by sample mean and standard deviation (M = 7.07, SD = 1.29).
Compared with athletes getting sufficient sleep, those getting insufficient sleep the night prior to baseline reported significantly more overall symptoms and more symptoms from each of the five symptom clusters of the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale. However, there were no significant differences on objective performance indices. Secondly, there were no significant differences on any of the outcome measures, except for sleep symptoms and headache, between athletes getting insufficient sleep at baseline and those getting sufficient sleep post-concussion.
Overall, the effect of insufficient sleep at baseline can make an athlete appear similar to a concussed athlete with sufficient sleep. As such, athletes completing a baseline assessment following insufficient sleep could be underperforming cognitively and reporting elevated symptoms that would skew post-concussion comparisons. Therefore, there may need to be consideration of prior night’s sleep when determining whether a baseline can be used as a valid comparison.
The purpose of this study was to examine sex differences in neuropsychological functioning after sports-related concussion using several approaches to assess cognition: mean performance, number of impaired scores, and intraindividual variability (IIV).
In the study, 152 concussed college athletes were administered a battery of neuropsychological tests, on average, 10 days post-concussion (SD = 12.75; Mdn = 4 days; Range = 0–72 days). Mean performance was evaluated across 18 individual neuropsychological variables, and the total number of impaired test scores (>1.5 SD below the mean) was calculated for each athlete. Two measures of IIV were also computed: an intraindividual standard deviation (ISD) score and a maximum discrepancy (MD) score.
Analyses of covariance revealed that, compared with males, females had significantly more impaired scores and showed greater variability on both IIV indices (ISD and MD scores) after adjusting for time since injury and post-concussive symptoms. In contrast, no significant effects of sex were found when examining mean neuropsychological performance.
Although females and males demonstrated similar mean performance following concussion, females exhibited a greater level of cognitive impairment and larger inconsistencies in cognitive performance than males. These results suggest that evaluating cognitive indices beyond mean neuropsychological scores may provide valuable information when determining the extent of post-concussion cognitive dysfunction.
Objectives: Research indicates that symptoms following a concussion are related to cognitive dysfunction; however, less is known about how different types of symptoms may be related to cognitive outcomes or how specific domains of cognition are affected. The present study explored the relationship between specific types of symptoms and these various cognitive outcomes following a concussion. Methods: One-hundred twenty-two student-athletes with sports-related concussion were tested with a battery that included a symptom report measure and various cognitive tests. Symptoms factors were: Physical, Sleep, Cognitive, Affective and Headache. Participants were grouped into “symptom” and “no symptom” groups for each factor. Cognitive outcomes included both overall performance as well as impairment scores in which individuals were grouped into impaired and not impaired based on a cutoff of 2 or more tests at the impaired level (<80 in standard scores). These cognitive outcomes were examined for all the tests combined and then specifically for the memory tests and attention/processing speed tests. A Bonferroni correction was used, and the results were considered significant at a level of p<.008. Results: Headache symptoms were significantly (p<.008) associated with overall cognitive impairment as well as memory and attention/processing speed impairment. Sleep symptoms were related to memory impairments. Conclusions: The symptom specific relationships to cognitive outcomes demonstrated by our study can help guide treatment and accommodations for athletes following concussion. (JINS, 2018, 24, 1–9)
The Chicago Multiscale Depression Inventory (CMDI) was developed to improve accuracy in measuring depression symptoms in individuals with non-psychiatric medical illness. Earlier psychometric evaluation of the CMDI has emphasized properties of items that measure negative affect and experience. In this study, we provide an initial evaluation of an outcome scale of positive items that are also included within the CMDI but have previously been excluded from calculation of the total score. Psychometric data for the CMDI negative and positive item subscales were determined in healthy adults and patients with multiple sclerosis. Analysis included measurements of factor structure, reliability, and validity in comparison with other established measures of depression and affect. Study findings indicate that in healthy and patient samples, the CMDI Positive scale has very good reliability and validity. The Positive scale score also appears to predict depression symptoms beyond the negative item scale scores. The CMDI Positive scale could be a valuable clinical and research tool. Inclusion of the Positive scale in the CMDI total score appears to improve the measure by further capturing symptoms of affect and experience that are important to diagnosis of depression and are not covered by the negative scales alone. (JINS, 2016, 22, 76–82)
Exploring the relationship between genetic factors and outcome following brain injury has received increased attention in recent years. However, few studies have evaluated the influence of genes on specific sequelae of concussion. The purpose of this study was to determine how the ϵ4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene influences symptom expression following sports-related concussion. Participants included 42 collegiate athletes who underwent neuropsychological testing, including completion of the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS), within 3 months after sustaining a concussion (73.8% were evaluated within 1 week). Athletes provided buccal samples that were analyzed to determine the make-up of their APOE genotype. Dependent variables included a total symptom score and four symptom clusters derived from the PCSS. Mann-Whitney U tests showed higher scores reported by athletes with the ϵ4 allele compared to those without it on the total symptom score and the physical and cognitive symptom clusters. Furthermore, logistic regression showed that the ϵ4 allele independently predicted those athletes who reported physical and cognitive symptoms following concussion. These findings illustrate that ϵ4+ athletes report greater symptomatology post-concussion than ϵ4- athletes, suggesting that the ϵ4 genotype may confer risk for poorer post-concussion outcome. (JINS, 2016, 22, 89–94)
Background: Lifetime prevalence rates of cognitive dysfunction and depression in multiple sclerosis (MS) have typically been reported to be ∼50%. However, an inconsistent relationship between these two common features of MS has been reported in the literature. Because neurovegetative depression symptoms overlap with MS symptoms, it may be that literature inconsistencies can partly be explained by the fact that only those depression symptom clusters unambiguously reflective of depression are associated with cognitive dysfunction.
Objective: To explore the relationship between different depression symptom clusters and a battery of tests measuring cognitive domains commonly impaired in MS and was examined at two time points 3 years apart.
Methods: The Chicago Multiscale Depression Inventory was employed to measure mood, negative evaluative, and neurovegetative symptom clusters in 53 MS patients who were also administered a battery of neuropsychological tests.
Results: At time point 1, Mood and Evaluative Chicago Multiscale Depression Inventory scales were significantly associated with tasks of complex speeded attention, planning, and working memory. At time point 2, the Evaluative scale was still significantly associated with these domains, in addition to spatial memory; however, all of the significant correlations with the Mood scale dropped out.
Conclusion: These results show that negative evaluative depression symptoms are most consistently predictive of cognitive dysfunction in MS. It may be that negative evaluative depression symptoms use up available cognitive capacity, thus compromising performance on cognitive capacity demanding tasks in MS patients.
Approximately 50% of persons with multiple sclerosis experience cognitive impairment, which adversely affects daily functioning. Although patients report that fatigue contributes to cognitive difficulties, previous empirical studies do not show a clear association. This study assessed coping style as a moderator of the relationship between fatigue and cognition in a 3-year longitudinal sample. Scores on the Fatigue Impact Scale and the Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced (COPE) at baseline were modeled to predict later performance on a composite of cognitive tests to investigate the hypothesis that coping would have a significant moderating effect on fatigue in predicting cognitive performance. Findings partially supported hypotheses by showing that avoidant coping moderated the relationship between fatigue and cognitive performance. Patients who experienced relatively high fatigue performed better on cognitive tests if they used less avoidant coping. Those who reported lower fatigue had relatively good cognitive performance regardless of their coping style. This study provides evidence that coping style is associated with the ability to deal with stress, like fatigue, and their interaction can impact functional outcomes of disease. These results could benefit understanding of prognosis and improve treatment for patients with MS. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–5.)
Identifying factors that improve the assessment of athletes’ psychological functioning is imperative to make proper return-to-play decisions following concussion. Prior research indicates that an individual's affect is related to symptom reporting. The present study examines two novel methods of affect assessment in college athletes at baseline participating in a sports-concussion management program. A total of 256 athletes completed a neuropsychological baseline battery with measurements of psychological symptoms (BDI-Fast Screen, Post-Concussion Symptom Scale, and ImPact Total Symptom Score) and a measure of affective memory bias (the Affective Verbal Learning Test; AVLT). Examiners completed an observation-based rating of affect. Multivariate analysis of variance and χ2 analyses were conducted to examine the effect of affect on symptom reports. Examiners’ Affect Ratings were predictive of broad symptom reporting, while the performance based index of affect (Affective Verbal Learning Test, AVLT) was more predictive of depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that performance on the AVLT may be a useful indicator of self-reported depression in a collegiate athlete sample. Additionally, these results demonstrate that examiners’ behavioral assessments of affect are important in the assessment of psychological functioning in athletes. Continued work should focus on developing objective measures that are sensitive and valid for the evaluation of outcomes from concussion. (JINS, 2012, 18, 101–107)
The present study sought to evaluate the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR) Full-Scale IQ (FSIQ) estimate as an index of premorbid ability in a sample 574 of healthy college athletes participating in a sports concussion management program. We compared baseline neuropsychological test performance with the WTAR FSIQ estimate obtained at baseline. Results revealed that the discrepancy between actual neuropsychological test scores and the WTAR FSIQ estimate was greatest for those with estimated FSIQs greater than 107. The clinical implication of this finding was evaluated in the 51 participants who went on to sustain a concussion. For individuals with higher IQ estimates, the WTAR estimate obtained post-concussion suggested greater post-concussion decline than that indicated by comparison with actual baseline neuropsychological performance. (JINS, 2012, 18, 139–143)
The ability to engage in self-reflective processes is a capacity that may be disrupted after neurological compromise; research to date has demonstrated that patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) show reduced awareness of their deficits and functional ability compared to caretaker or clinician reports. Assessment of awareness of deficit, however, has been limited by the use of subjective measures (without comparison to actual performance) that are susceptible to report bias. This study used concurrent measurements from cognitive testing and confidence judgments about performance to investigate in-the-moment metacognitive experiences after moderate and severe traumatic brain injury. Deficits in metacognitive accuracy were found in adults with TBI for some but not all indices, suggesting that metacognition may not be a unitary construct. Findings also revealed that not all indices of executive functioning reliably predict metacognitive ability. (JINS, 2011, 17, 720–731)
Elucidating the relationship between fatigue and depression in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients is complicated by ambiguity regarding how these two constructs should be delineated. Neurovegetative symptoms of depression may reflect depression in MS patients, as they do in non-neurological populations; instead these items may measure disease-related fatigue; or disease-related fatigue and depression may reflect the same syndrome in MS patients. The present study sought to evaluate these possibilities by characterizing the underlying factor structure of self-report items designed to measure fatigue and depression symptoms. Questionnaires designed to measure fatigue and depression were administered to 174 MS patients and 84 healthy controls, and these items were subject to factor analysis. Results suggest that neurovegetative symptoms are poor indicators of depression in MS patients. Neurovegetative depression items were removed from the final model due to poor psychometric properties, or they loaded on Fatigue or Sleep Disturbance factors. The correlation between latent factors Depression and Fatigue was large (.47), but does not indicate that these phenomena are manifestations of the same construct. Hence, the results of this study support the notion that vegetative symptoms of depression do not reflect depression in MS patients, but instead measure symptoms of fatigue and sleep disturbance. (JINS, 2010, 17, 000–000)
Both social support and stress predict depression in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Little work has been done on the relationship between positive life experiences and depression in this group. Ninety MS patients completed the Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ), the Hassles and Uplifts Scale (HUS), the Chicago Multiscale Depression Inventory (CMDI), and the Affective Reading Span Task (ARST). The Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) was also used. Separate regression analyses were conducted with the EDSS entered at step 1, ARST memory bias score at step 2, SSQ at step 3, either Hassles or Uplifts at step 4, and the interaction term at step 5 to predict depression. Uplifts interacted significantly with social support to predict depression, but hassles did not. After considering disability level, memory bias, and social support and uplifts main effects, the interaction of uplifts and social support accounted for nearly 5% independent variance in depression (p < .05). These results suggest that the absence of uplifts, combined with low levels of social support, is related to depression in MS patients. More generally, these data indicate that it is important to study the absence of positive experiences along with stress and negative experiences in this population. (JINS, 2010, 16, 1039–1046.)
Some researchers have suggested that general self-report depression scales may be inadequate for assessing depression among individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), because many of such items represent MS disease symptoms. However, research has been mixed on this issue: whereas some studies provide support for symptom overlap, others have found opposing evidence. We investigated this issue in two different MS samples with three different strategies. We (1) examined reliable change in depression symptom categories at two time points over three years, (2) assessed the relationship between variables associated with depression and different depression symptom subscales, and (3) assessed the relationship between symptom subscales and physical disability. In each instance we found significant evidence that items meant to assess vegetative symptoms of depression may be influenced by presence of MS disease symptoms or were not associated with other core elements or central correlates of depression. (JINS, 2008, 14, 1057–1062.)