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Altered decision-making in multiple sclerosis: a sign of impaired emotional reactivity?
Annals of neurology
We assessed decision-making capacity and emotional reactivity in 20 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and in 16 healthy subjects using the Gambling Task (GT), a model of real-life decision making, and the skin conductance response (SCR). Demographic, neurological, affective, and cognitive parameters were analyzed in MS patients for their effect on decision-making performance. MS patients persisted longer (slope, -3.6%) than the comparison group (slope, -6.4%) in making disadvantageous choices as the GT progressed (p < 0.001), suggesting significant slower learning in MS. Patients with higher Expanded Disability Status Scale scores (EDSS >2.0) showed a different pattern of impairment in the learning process compared with patients with lower functional impairment (EDSS </=2.0). This slower learning was associated with impaired emotional reactivity (anticipatory SCR 3.9 vs 6.1 microSiemens [microS] for patients vs the comparison group, p < 0.0001; post-choice SCR 3.9 vs 6.2 microS, p < 0.0001), but not with executive dysfunction. Impaired emotional dimensions of behavior (assessed using the Dysexecutive Questionnaire, p < 0.002) also correlated with slower learning. Given the considerable consequences that impaired decision making can have on daily life, we suggest that this factor may contribute to handicap and altered quality of life secondary to MS and is dependent on emotional experience. Ann Neurol 2004.
Adult, Affective Symptoms, Chi-Square Distribution, Decision Making, Female, Galvanic Skin Response, Humans, Linear Models, Male, Middle Aged, Multiple Sclerosis, Prospective Studies, Statistics, Nonparametric
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