Dissociating perceptual and conceptual implicit memory in multiple sclerosis patients

Brain Cogn. 2002 Oct;50(1):51-61. doi: 10.1016/s0278-2626(02)00009-x.


Previous studies indicate that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients exhibit deficits in tests of explicit memory such as free recall, but show normal priming on implicit tests of memory such as word stem completion. However, the memory performance of patients with different MS disease subtypes has not been fully examined. In the current study, memory was assessed in Primary Progressive (PPMS), Relapsing Remitting (RRMS), and Secondary Progressive (SPMS) MS subgroups. Explicit memory as well as perceptual and conceptual implicit memory were examined using free recall, word fragment completion, and exemplar generation tests, respectively. All three groups of MS patients exhibited free recall deficits and normal priming on the exemplar generation test. However, the PPMS group exhibited a deficit in word fragment completion priming, whereas the RRMS and SPMS groups exhibited normal levels of priming on this task. Lesion load was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging and was negatively correlated with explicit memory performance, but it did not account for the observed deficits in perceptual implicit memory. The results indicate that PPMS patients exhibit a pattern of memory impairment that is distinct from that of the RRMS and SPMS groups. Moreover, the results indicate that perceptual implicit memory can be neurologically dissociated from conceptual implicit memory.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Perceptual Disorders / diagnosis
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*