Background: Up to 70% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience cognitive impairment. Some remain cognitively intact despite advanced disease. Cognitive reserve (CR) theory postulates that individuals with higher levels of intellectual enrichment can tolerate more pathology than others before exhibiting cognitive impairment. Methods: Thirty-two individuals with early-phase relapsing-remitting MS with mild physical disability and disease duration less than 10 years and 32 controls were recruited. At baseline and after 3 years, participants completed neuropsychological tests evaluating several cognitive domains. The CR was assessed via a cognitive reserve index (CRI) using educational levels and North American Adult Reading Test scores. Change in cognition was assessed using a reliable change index. Results: At baseline, people with MS performed worse than controls on visual memory. There were no significant group differences on information processing speed, learning, language, and executive functions. Most cognitive domains showed no change over time, and CRI was not a significant predictor in the regression model. Conclusions: People with MS performed worse on memory tasks at baseline compared with controls. Cognitive change differed between people with MS and controls in executive functions. Although people with MS and controls improved over time, beyond practice effects, people with MS improved less than controls. Overall, no cognitive deterioration was noted over time, and CR did not predict change in cognition. Sample homogeneity in terms of disease stage and CR may explain these findings.
International Journal of MS Care
Department of Cognitive Science

Barbu, R.M. (Roxana M.), Berard, J.A. (Jason A.), Gresham, L.M. (Louise M.), & Walker, L.A.S. (2018). Longitudinal stability of cognition in early-phase relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis; Does cognitive reserve play a role?. International Journal of MS Care, 20(4), 173–179. doi:10.7224/1537-2073.2016-073