Impaired social cognition in multiple sclerosis

This interesting study from Germany explored if theory of mind (ToM) impairments in MS can be detected using the video based Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC) and whether impaired social cognition can occur independently of deficits in memory, processing speed or executive function in this patient population. The recently developed MASC examines the ability to analyse intentions, emotions and thoughts in a more complex and ecologically valid manner.

Results from this study showed significantly lower performances on the MASC were found in people with MS compared with matched healthy controls. Impairment was more pronounced in identification of emotion than the recognition of intentions or thoughts of others. The ToM impairment in MS occurred independently of neuropsychological deficits and depression. Also, ToM impairment was detected in the people with MS during the early stages of disease.

Deficits in identifying emotions, thoughts and intentions may result in interpersonal problems with family and friends, and could result in withdrawal from social life and reduced social support.

Authors: Pöttgen J, Dziobek I, Reh S

Source: J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print]

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