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Cognitive dysfunction in multiple sclerosis: a review of recent developments.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Nearly half of all patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis will develop cognitive dysfunction, a symptom associated with significant decline in activities of daily living. The purpose of this review is to discuss recent literature investigating issues related to cognitive dysfunction in multiple sclerosis.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent studies, examined in this review, have provided increased understanding regarding specific cognitive processes affected in multiple sclerosis, as well as a characterization of its natural history. Studies have also continued to emphasize the extent to which cognitive deficits in the condition are associated with decline in daily living skills. Recent concerns regarding driving performance have been documented among cognitively impaired individuals. Studies have also examined correlates of cognitive dysfunction, with particular emphasis on neuroimaging techniques reflecting disease activity or lesion burden. With increased understanding of neurobiological correlates of cognitive deficits, investigators have begun to examine potential treatments for managing cognitive dysfunction.

SUMMARY: This area of research has suggested that disease modifying medications can have an impact on magnetic resonance imaging disease activity by altering the cerebral demyelinating process resulting in a slower decline in cognitive functions over time and improved activities of daily living for patients with multiple sclerosis.

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