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Processing speed deficit reduces memory technique effectiveness


A new study found that for MS patients processing speed deficits may affect modified Story Memory Technique treatments. Researchers discovered that processing speed may serve as a marker for generalized cognitive dysfunction.

Deficits in processing speed, which are common in MS, have been shown to adversely affect cognitive and everyday functioning. Kessler Foundation investigators looked at the influence of processing speed on benefits of the mSMT, a 10-session cognitive intervention protocol shown to improve new learning and memory in individuals with MS. Among the participants with deficits in processing speed, the mSMT was not as effective verses the control group. Researchers did find that performance on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test was determined to be an indicator for mSMT benefit.

“Processing speed may be an indicator of cognitive decline, which may be a factor in the reduced benefit with mSMT,” said Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti, Ph.D., director of Neuroscience and Neuropsychology and Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation. “Also, learning and memory impairments can have different mechanisms. In individuals with deficits in processing, impaired learning and memory may stem from difficulties with working memory and attention, as well as slowed processing speed. This could also affect outcomes on the mSMT.”

The findings were published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

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