More MS news articles for May 2001

Visual object recognition in multiple sclerosis

Deficits in tasks measuring visual processing have been earlier reported in studies of MS. Yet, the nature and severity of visual-processing deficits in MS remains unclear. Scientists at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku, Finland devised a new method in order to measure the different stages of visual processing in object recognition: shape recognition, familiarity recognition, semantic categorization, and identification with naming.

Six two-choice reaction-time tasks were presented to 30 MS patients and 15 healthy controls. The patients were divided into cognitively preserved and cognitively deteriorated study groups according to their cognitive status. The purpose was to find out whether deficits at specific stages of visual processing can be found in cognitively deteriorated MS patients.

Cognitively deteriorated MS patients did not perform as well as cognitively preserved MS patients or healthy controls. They were slower already at the early stage of visual processing where discrimination of whole objects from scrambled ones was required. They also had higher error rates in tasks requiring object familiarity detection and object identification with naming. Thus, cognitively deteriorated MS patients had difficulties in visual shape recognition and semantic-lexical processing. However, variation of performances was large within both of the patient groups indicating that even patients without a generalized cognitive decline may have deficits in some stages of the visual processing. We suggest that because of the heterogeneity of the patients, every single case needs to be examined separately in order to identify the possible deficits in visual processing.

SOURCE: Laatu S, Revonsuo A, Hamalainen P, Ojanen V, Ruutiainen J. J Neurol Sci 2001 Apr 1;185(2):77-88.

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Submission date: 03/05/01