Multiple sclerosis: Executive dysfunction, task switching and the role of attention

Meaghan Clough, Paige Joan Foletta, Ashley N Frohman, Elliot Frohman, Derek Sears, Owen Bruce White, Joanne Fielding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: It has been suggested that switching ability might not be affected in multiple sclerosis (MS) as previously thought; however, whether this is true under more 'real-world' conditions when asymmetry in task difficulty is present has not been ascertained.
Objective: The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of task difficulty asymmetry on task switching ability in MS.
Method: An ocular motor (OM) paradigm that interleaves the simple task of looking towards a target (prosaccade, PS) with the cognitively more difficult task of looking away from a target (antisaccade, PS) was used. Two switching conditions: (1) PS switch cost, switching to a simple task from a difficult task (PS switch), relative to performing two simple tasks concurrently (PS repeat); (2) AS switch cost, switching to a difficult task from a simple task (AS switch) relative to performing two difficult tasks concurrently (AS repeat). Forty-five relapsing-remitting MS patients and 30 control individuals were compared.
Results: Controls and patients produced a similar magnitude PS switch cost, suggesting that task difficulty asymmetry does not detrimentally impact MS patients when transitioning from a more difficult task to a simpler task. However, MS patients alone found switching from the simpler PS trial to the more difficult AS trial easier (shorter latency and reduced error) than performing two AS trials consecutively (AS switch benefit). Further, MS patients performed significantly more errors than controls when required to repeat the same trial consecutively.
Conclusion: MS patients appear to find the maintenance of task-relevant processes difficult not switching per se, with deficits exacerbated under increased attentional demands.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Cite this

Clough, Meaghan ; Foletta, Paige Joan ; Frohman, Ashley N ; Frohman, Elliot ; Sears, Derek ; White, Owen Bruce ; Fielding, Joanne. / Multiple sclerosis : Executive dysfunction, task switching and the role of attention. In: Multiple Sclerosis. 2018 ; Vol. 4, No. 2.
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title = "Multiple sclerosis: Executive dysfunction, task switching and the role of attention",
abstract = "Background: It has been suggested that switching ability might not be affected in multiple sclerosis (MS) as previously thought; however, whether this is true under more 'real-world' conditions when asymmetry in task difficulty is present has not been ascertained.Objective: The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of task difficulty asymmetry on task switching ability in MS.Method: An ocular motor (OM) paradigm that interleaves the simple task of looking towards a target (prosaccade, PS) with the cognitively more difficult task of looking away from a target (antisaccade, PS) was used. Two switching conditions: (1) PS switch cost, switching to a simple task from a difficult task (PS switch), relative to performing two simple tasks concurrently (PS repeat); (2) AS switch cost, switching to a difficult task from a simple task (AS switch) relative to performing two difficult tasks concurrently (AS repeat). Forty-five relapsing-remitting MS patients and 30 control individuals were compared.Results: Controls and patients produced a similar magnitude PS switch cost, suggesting that task difficulty asymmetry does not detrimentally impact MS patients when transitioning from a more difficult task to a simpler task. However, MS patients alone found switching from the simpler PS trial to the more difficult AS trial easier (shorter latency and reduced error) than performing two AS trials consecutively (AS switch benefit). Further, MS patients performed significantly more errors than controls when required to repeat the same trial consecutively.Conclusion: MS patients appear to find the maintenance of task-relevant processes difficult not switching per se, with deficits exacerbated under increased attentional demands.",
author = "Meaghan Clough and Foletta, {Paige Joan} and Frohman, {Ashley N} and Elliot Frohman and Derek Sears and White, {Owen Bruce} and Joanne Fielding",
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Multiple sclerosis : Executive dysfunction, task switching and the role of attention. / Clough, Meaghan; Foletta, Paige Joan; Frohman, Ashley N; Frohman, Elliot; Sears, Derek; White, Owen Bruce; Fielding, Joanne.

In: Multiple Sclerosis, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Multiple sclerosis

T2 - Executive dysfunction, task switching and the role of attention

AU - Clough, Meaghan

AU - Foletta, Paige Joan

AU - Frohman, Ashley N

AU - Frohman, Elliot

AU - Sears, Derek

AU - White, Owen Bruce

AU - Fielding, Joanne

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - Background: It has been suggested that switching ability might not be affected in multiple sclerosis (MS) as previously thought; however, whether this is true under more 'real-world' conditions when asymmetry in task difficulty is present has not been ascertained.Objective: The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of task difficulty asymmetry on task switching ability in MS.Method: An ocular motor (OM) paradigm that interleaves the simple task of looking towards a target (prosaccade, PS) with the cognitively more difficult task of looking away from a target (antisaccade, PS) was used. Two switching conditions: (1) PS switch cost, switching to a simple task from a difficult task (PS switch), relative to performing two simple tasks concurrently (PS repeat); (2) AS switch cost, switching to a difficult task from a simple task (AS switch) relative to performing two difficult tasks concurrently (AS repeat). Forty-five relapsing-remitting MS patients and 30 control individuals were compared.Results: Controls and patients produced a similar magnitude PS switch cost, suggesting that task difficulty asymmetry does not detrimentally impact MS patients when transitioning from a more difficult task to a simpler task. However, MS patients alone found switching from the simpler PS trial to the more difficult AS trial easier (shorter latency and reduced error) than performing two AS trials consecutively (AS switch benefit). Further, MS patients performed significantly more errors than controls when required to repeat the same trial consecutively.Conclusion: MS patients appear to find the maintenance of task-relevant processes difficult not switching per se, with deficits exacerbated under increased attentional demands.

AB - Background: It has been suggested that switching ability might not be affected in multiple sclerosis (MS) as previously thought; however, whether this is true under more 'real-world' conditions when asymmetry in task difficulty is present has not been ascertained.Objective: The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of task difficulty asymmetry on task switching ability in MS.Method: An ocular motor (OM) paradigm that interleaves the simple task of looking towards a target (prosaccade, PS) with the cognitively more difficult task of looking away from a target (antisaccade, PS) was used. Two switching conditions: (1) PS switch cost, switching to a simple task from a difficult task (PS switch), relative to performing two simple tasks concurrently (PS repeat); (2) AS switch cost, switching to a difficult task from a simple task (AS switch) relative to performing two difficult tasks concurrently (AS repeat). Forty-five relapsing-remitting MS patients and 30 control individuals were compared.Results: Controls and patients produced a similar magnitude PS switch cost, suggesting that task difficulty asymmetry does not detrimentally impact MS patients when transitioning from a more difficult task to a simpler task. However, MS patients alone found switching from the simpler PS trial to the more difficult AS trial easier (shorter latency and reduced error) than performing two AS trials consecutively (AS switch benefit). Further, MS patients performed significantly more errors than controls when required to repeat the same trial consecutively.Conclusion: MS patients appear to find the maintenance of task-relevant processes difficult not switching per se, with deficits exacerbated under increased attentional demands.

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