Preserved decision making ability in early multiple sclerosis
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The purpose of this study was to assess decision making in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the earliest clinically detectable time point of the disease.
Patients with definite MS (n = 109) or with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS, n = 56), a disease duration of 3 months to 5 years, and no or only minor neurological impairment (Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS] score 0–2.5) were compared to 50 healthy controls using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT).
The performance of definite MS, CIS patients, and controls was comparable for the two main outcomes of the IGT (learning index: p = 0.7; total score: p = 0.6). The IGT learning index was influenced by the educational level and the co-occurrence of minor depression. CIS and MS patients developing a relapse during an observation period of 15 months dated from IGT testing demonstrated a lower learning index in the IGT than patients who had no exacerbation (p = 0.02). When controlling for age, gender and education, the difference between relapsing and non-relapsing patients was at the limit of significance (p = 0.06).
Decision making in a task mimicking real life decisions is generally preserved in early MS patients as compared to controls. A possible consequence of MS relapsing activity in the impairment of decision making ability is also suspected in the early phase of MS.
Key wordsmultiple sclerosis Iowa Gambling Task decision making behavior relapse
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