Effect of deep gray matter atrophy on information processing speed in early relapsing- remitting multiple sclerosis

10 February 2023


Cognitive dysfunction, including reduced Information processing speed (IPS), is relatively common in multiple sclerosis(MS). IPS deficits have profound effects on several aspects of patients’ life. Previous studies showed that deep gray matter atrophy is highly correlated with overall cognitive impairment in MS. However, the effect of deep gray matter atrophy on IPS deficits is not well understood. In this study, we evaluated the effects of deep gray matter volume changes on IPS in people with early relapse-remitting MS (RRMS) compared to healthy control.


In this case-control study, we enrolled 63 case with RRMS and 36 healthy controls. All patients were diagnosed within 6 years. IPS was evaluated using the Integrated Cognitive Assessment (ICA) test. We also performed a 1.5T MRI to evaluate deep gray matter structures.


People with RRMS had lower accuracy in the ICA test (p = .01). However, the reaction time did not significantly differ between RRMS and control groups (p = .6). Thalamus volume was significantly lower in the RRMS group with impaired IPS compared to the RRMS with normal IPS and control groups (p < 10−4). Other deep gray matter structures were not significantly different between the RRMS with impaired IPS group and the RRMS with normal IPS group.


Some people with MS are impaired in IPS even in the early stages of the disease. Thalamic atrophy affected IPS in these patients, however atrophy in other deep gray matter structures, including caudate, putamen, globus pallidus, hippocampus, amygdala, accumbens, and cerebellum, were not significantly correlated with IPS impairment in early RRMS.

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