How to reduce new-learning problems in MS patients – By Shabnam Nouri

Among the common cognitive problems in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, new-learning is one of the major problems. Although, the effectiveness of learning strategies were evaluated and compared in MS patients, their effectiveness on cognitive functions has been less considered. In the present study the effect of verbal learning and learning by action on cognitive functions in MS patients were compared while, three method of learning by action including the Subject-Performed Task (SPT), the Examiner-Performed Task (EPT) and the Subject-Examiner Performed Task (SEPT) were compared. Also, the role of relational processing was studied during encoding and retrieval process. The present randomized clinical trial included 30 MS patients who were divided into two groups of 15 for verbal and practical learning. Participants completed primary and secondary psychological and cognitive assessments. Six separate verbal and practical learning sessions were held for each group. Learning materials included 6 lists of 16 simple phrases consisting of a noun and a verb. Based on the findings, in post-intervention cognitive assessment, both groups made significant progress in processing speed and working memory (short-term storage and manipulation of information) while, learning by action was more effective. Furthermore, both groups were more successful in retrieving relevant information. This study indicates that combined learning strategy including enactment and verbal learning strategies, semantic learning as well as retrieval strategy can be used as an effective strategy to strengthen cognitive functions and reduce new learning problems in MS patients.