A study by Kessler Foundation researchers, published in the Journal of Neuropsychology, links the deficits in social cognition in multiple sclerosis with fatigue, depressive symptomatology, and anxiety.

The team tested 28 individuals with multiple sclerosis for impairments of social cognition using tests of facial affect recognition and Theory of Mind, and looked for associations between deficits of social cognition with common conditions in this population by screening for fatigue, depression and anxiety. They also measured non-social cognitive ability, ie, attention and processing speed, using the Symbol Digit Modality Test.

Preliminary findings showed consistent associations between poorer performance on measures of social cognition and increased symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue, most notably psychosocial fatigue. Cognitive ability was not a factor in these associations, a media release from Kessler Foundation explains.

The study raises issues of causality and reciprocal effects, according to Dr Genova, the Foundation’s assistant director of the Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research, notes that the study raises issues of causality and reciprocal effects.

“The nature of the relationships among these variables remains unclear,” Genova says. “We cannot say whether deficits of social cognition worsen mood condition and fatigue, or vice versa.

“The relationships may be reciprocal in nature,” she adds. “Poor social cognition may worsen fatigue, depression and anxiety, leading to greater social isolation. That, in turn, may worsen social cognitive function.”

The researchers emphasize the preliminary nature of their findings and recommend further research into the relationships among these factors in individuals with MS, as well in other populations with non-neurologic conditions, and healthy controls.

“All of these conditions adversely affect quality of life,” Genova concludes.

“To alleviate their impact, we need to understand the interplay of social cognition, mood, and fatigue. Our study is an initial step toward understanding these dynamics in the population with MS.”

[Source(s): Kessler Foundation, Science Daily]