The early symptoms of multiple sclerosis: effects on subsequent neuropsychological test performance



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Sixty MS patients were administered a neuropsychological test battery which included tests of cognitive and intellectual functioning, sensorimotor functioning, and basic motor abilities. The sample was partitioned in three different ways: 1) by duration of MS symptoms (cutoff set at nine years); 2) by type of initial symptoms (motor, somesthetic, or visual); and 3) by laterality of initial symptoms (right, left, or non-lateralized). Univariate F-tests indicated significantly lower memory functioning in patients with longer duration of symptoms. F-tests between the other two sets of groups showed no clear pattern. Discriminant functions were then calculated for each type of grouping, employing the WAIS and Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS) as predictors. The discriminant functions suggested that, on a multivariate level, tests of higher cortical functioning requiring little motor ability could significantly contribute to the differentiation of groups. Additionally, the optimum functions for classification appeared to be qualitatively different Vvhen calculated for duration groups, groupings based on type of initial symptoms, and groupings based on laterality of initial symptoms.