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Is language impairment more common than executive dysfunction in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-498
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date2 Oct 2012
E-pub ahead of print2 Oct 2012
PublishedMay 2013

King's Authors


Background: Systematic explorations of language abilities in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are lacking in the context of wider cognitive change.

Methodology: Neuropsychological assessment data were obtained from 51 patients with ALS and 35 healthy controls matched for age, gender and IQ. Composite scores were derived for the domains of language and executive functioning. Domain impairment was defined as a composite score ≤5th centile relative to the control mean. Cognitive impairment was also classified using recently published consensus criteria.

Results: The patients with ALS were impaired on language and executive composite scores. Language domain impairment was found in 43% of patients with ALS, and executive domain impairment in 31%. Standardised language and executive composite scores correlated in the ALS group (r=0.68, p<0.001). Multiple regression analyses indicated that scores on the executive composite accounted for 44% of the variance in language composite scores.

Conclusions: Language impairments are at least as prevalent as executive dysfunction in ALS. While the two domains are strongly associated, executive dysfunction does not fully account for the profile of language impairments observed, further highlighting the heterogeneity of cognitive impairment in non-demented patients with ALS.

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