The nature of verbal memory impairment in multiple sclerosis: A list-learning and meta-analytic study

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Abstract The primary purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients have impaired acquisition rather than a retrieval deficit. Verbal memory impairment in MS was examined in 53 relapsing-remitting MS patients and 31 healthy controls (HC), and in a meta-analysis of studies that examined memory functioning in MS with list-learning tasks. The MS group demonstrated significantly lower acquisition and delayed recall performance than the HC group, and the meta-analysis revealed that the largest effect sizes were obtained for acquisition measures relative to delayed recall and recognition. Our data argue against a retrieval deficit as the sole explanation for verbal memory impairment in MS, and make a consistent case for the position that deficient acquisition contributes to the memory dysfunction of MS patients. Deficient acquisition may result from demyelination in relevant white matter tracts that reduces encoding efficiency as a result of impaired speed of information processing. (JINS, 2013, 19, 995-1008) Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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