Neurologia 2002 Jan;17(1):12-16
Drake M, Allegri R, Carra A.
Servicio de Neurologia. Hospital Britanico de Buenos Aires. Argentina.
Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) have a high frequency of cognitive deficits. Research has demonstrated impairments in memory, attention, information-processing speed, and executive functions. Although it has been traditionally held that language function is commonly preserved in MS, some studies have demonstrated language impairment in these patients, particularly in tasks of naming and word-generation.
The aim of the study was to examine language functioning in MS, with particular interest in naming ability and verbal fluency.
Material and methods:
Thirty patients with MS, and 30 neurologically intact normal controls, matched for age and educational level were evaluated. As part of a wider neuropsychological evaluation, all subjects were administered the Boston Naming Tests. To compare performances, a comprehensive classification of error types was devised.
MS patients showed significantly lower performance on both linguistic measures than the control subjects. On the Boston Naming Test, MS patients obtainde significant lower scores than controls, with a high rate of semantic errors. Additionally, they tended to show an also high number of visuoperceptual errors. Low scores on naming task correlated with low performance on verbal fluency.
This study reveals that language function can be impaired in MS, and that naming difficulties are a frequent finding. This naming deficit seems to have a double origin, stemming from disruption at the levels of the perceptual and/or the semantic systems.