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Abstract Details

Validation of Novel Semantic Word-Retrieval Tasks as Sensitive to Word-Finding Difficulty in Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis
P10 - Poster Session 10 (8:00 AM-9:00 AM)
Word-finding difficulty is the most prevalent cognitive complaint by persons with MS, but there is almost no research on this expressive language deficit, which is partially due to a lack of sensitive measurement tools. Traditional neuropsychological tasks (e.g., animal naming, Boston Naming Test) are insensitive to word-finding difficulty in MS.

To validate a clinically-feasible behavioral measurement tool sensitive to word-finding deficits in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Persons with relapsing-remitting MS (n=165) completed a survey of word-finding difficulty and performed objective measures assessing domains of processing speed, verbal memory, word-list generation, and rapid automatized naming (two tasks per domain combined into four composites). Patients also performed two novel semantic word-retrieval tasks requiring patients to quickly read words and state their opposite aloud (antonyms task) and quickly read simple definitions and state target words aloud (definitions task). These tasks formed a semantic word-retrieval composite. Patient-reported word-finding was adjusted for age, sex, and mood (MHI-5). Composites scores were adjusted for age, sex, premorbid verbal ability (WTAR), and simple word reading speed. High resolution T2-weighted MRIs were analyzed to derive T2 lesion volumes (T2LV, log-transformed) for ten bilateral regions: frontal, temporal, limbic, parietal, occipital.  Stepwise regressions (entry p<0.05) assessed independent relationships among patient-reported word-finding, behavioral composites, and regional T2LV.  

Semantic word-retrieval was the only independent predictor of patient-reported word-finding (r=0.237, p=.002). Left temporal T2LV was the only independent predictor of semantic word-retrieval (r=.250, p<.001) and patient-reported word-finding (r=.186, p=.018). Semantic word-retrieval performance explained 58.3% of the relationship between left temporal T2LV and patient-reported word-finding (significant mediation).

Behavioral and neuroimaging results support our novel semantic word-retrieval tasks as sensitive to disease-related word-finding difficulty in MS. Validation of objective word-finding assessment tools sets the stage for further research on underlying mechanisms and potential treatments of this prevalent expressive language deficit.  
Emily Dvorak
Ms. Dvorak has nothing to disclose.
James F. Sumowski (Icahn School of Medicine At Mount Sinai) Mr. Sumowski has nothing to disclose.