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Random number generation deficits in patients with multiple sclerosis: Characteristics and neural correlates


Geisseler, Olivia; Pflugshaupt, Tobias; Buchmann, Andreas; Bezzola, Ladina; Reuter, Katja; Schuknecht, Bernhard; Weller, David; Linnebank, Michael; Brugger, Peter (2016). Random number generation deficits in patients with multiple sclerosis: Characteristics and neural correlates. Cortex, 82:237-243.

Abstract

Human subjects typically deviate systematically from randomness when attempting to produce a sequence of random numbers. Despite an increasing number of behavioral and functional neuroimaging studies on random number generation (RNG), its structural correlates have never been investigated. We set out to fill this gap in 44 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease whose impact on RNG has never been studied. The RNG task required the paced (1 Hz) generation of the numbers from 1 to 6 in a sequence as random as possible. The same task was administered in 39 matched healthy controls. To assess neuroanatomical correlates such as cortical thickness, lesion load and third ventricle width, all subjects underwent high-resolution structural MRI. Compared to controls, MS patients exhibited an enhanced tendency to arrange consecutive numbers in an ascending order (“forward counting”). Furthermore, patients showed a higher susceptibility to rule breaks (producing out-of-category digits like 7) and to skip beats of the metronome. Clinico-anatomical correlation analyses revealed two main findings: First, increased counting in MS patients was associated with higher cortical lesion load. Second, increased number of skipped beats was related to widespread cortical thinning. In conclusion, our test results illustrate a loss of behavioral complexity in the course of MS, while the imaging results suggest an association between this loss and cortical pathology.

Abstract

Human subjects typically deviate systematically from randomness when attempting to produce a sequence of random numbers. Despite an increasing number of behavioral and functional neuroimaging studies on random number generation (RNG), its structural correlates have never been investigated. We set out to fill this gap in 44 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease whose impact on RNG has never been studied. The RNG task required the paced (1 Hz) generation of the numbers from 1 to 6 in a sequence as random as possible. The same task was administered in 39 matched healthy controls. To assess neuroanatomical correlates such as cortical thickness, lesion load and third ventricle width, all subjects underwent high-resolution structural MRI. Compared to controls, MS patients exhibited an enhanced tendency to arrange consecutive numbers in an ascending order (“forward counting”). Furthermore, patients showed a higher susceptibility to rule breaks (producing out-of-category digits like 7) and to skip beats of the metronome. Clinico-anatomical correlation analyses revealed two main findings: First, increased counting in MS patients was associated with higher cortical lesion load. Second, increased number of skipped beats was related to widespread cortical thinning. In conclusion, our test results illustrate a loss of behavioral complexity in the course of MS, while the imaging results suggest an association between this loss and cortical pathology.

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1 citation in Web of Science®
1 citation in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neurology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 University Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:20 Jun 2016 15:20
Last Modified:10 Jul 2016 01:04
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-9452
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2016.05.007

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