Ocular motor measures of cognitive dysfunction in multiple sclerosis II: working memory

Meaghan Clough, Laura Mitchell, Lynette Millist, Nathaniel Lizak, Shin C Beh, Teresa C. Frohman, Elliot Frohman, Owen B. White, Joanne Fielding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Our companion paper documents pervasive inhibitory deficits in multiple sclerosis (MS) using ocular motor (OM) measures. Here we investigated the utility of an OM working memory (WMem) task in characterising WMem deficits in these patients as a function of disease status and disease duration. 22 patients with CIS, 22 early clinically definite MS patients (CDMS: <7 years of diagnosis), 22 late CDMS patients (>7 years from diagnosis), and 22 healthy controls participated. All participants completed the ocular motor WMem task, the paced auditory serial addition test (PASAT), and the symbol digit modalities test (SDMT). Clinical disability was characterised in CDMS patients using the Expanded Disability Severity Scale (EDSS). WMem performance was measured as proportion of errors (WMem errors), saccade latency, and relative sensitivity to WMem loading (WMem effect), an indicator of WMem capacity. All patient groups performed more WMem errors than controls with proportion of WMem errors, and degree of WMem effect increasing with increasing disease duration. A larger WMem effect, reflecting poorer WMem capacity, corresponded to poorer performance on neuropsychological measures, and a higher disability score for CDMS patients with the longest disease duration; an observation that suggests wider implication of WMem executive processes with advancing disease. Conspicuously, performance decrements on standard neuropsychological testing did not similarly increase commensurate with disease duration. The ocular motor WMem task appears to meaningfully dissociate WMem deficit from healthy individuals as well as a function of increasing disease duration. Potentially, this task represents a highly informative and objective method by which to ascertain progressive WMem changes from the earliest inception of MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1138-1147
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 26 2015


  • Cognition
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropsychological assessment
  • Ocular motility
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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