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Mental Health - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Occupational Attainment as a Marker of Cognitive Reserve in Multiple Sclerosis
Published: Friday, October 05, 2012
Author: Omar Ghaffar et al.

by Omar Ghaffar, Marty Fiati, Anthony Feinstein

Cognitive dysfunction affects half of MS patients. Although brain atrophy generally yields the most robust MRI correlations with cognition, significant variance in cognition between individual MS patients remains unexplained. Recently, markers of cognitive reserve such as premorbid intelligence have emerged as important predictors of neuropsychological performance in MS. In the present study, we aimed to extend the cognitive reserve construct by examining the potential contribution of occupational attainment to cognitive decline in MS patients. Brain atrophy, estimated premorbid IQ, and occupational attainment were assessed in 72 MS patients. The Minimal Assessment of Cognitive Functioning in MS was used to evaluate indices of information processing speed, memory, and executive function. Results showed that occupational attainment was a significant predictor of information processing speed, memory, and executive function in hierarchical linear regressions after accounting for brain atrophy and premorbid IQ. These data suggest that MS patients with low occupational attainment fare worse cognitively than those with high occupational attainment after controlling for brain atrophy and premorbid IQ. Occupation, like premorbid IQ, therefore may make an independent contribution to cognitive outcome in MS. Information regarding an individual's occupation is easily acquired and may serve as a useful proxy for cognitive reserve in clinical settings.