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, 17 (4-5), 478-505

Neuropsychological and Psychiatric Profiles in Acute Encephalitis in Adults


Neuropsychological and Psychiatric Profiles in Acute Encephalitis in Adults

Stephen M Pewter et al. Neuropsychol Rehabil.


Acute encephalitis is an inflammation of brain tissue that can result from activity in the central nervous system (CNS) of a number of viruses. Although the neurological and psychiatric effects of encephalitis in the acute phase of the illness are well-known (Caroff, Mann, Gliatto, Sullivan, & Campbell, 2001), larger scale studies of the pattern of neuropsychological and psychiatric impairment following recovery from the acute inflammatory phase are less apparent. This paper reports the results of neuropsychological testing with a range of standardised cognitive measures in a case series of long-term post-acute participants. Psychiatric abnormality is examined using the SCL-90-R self-report scale of distress (Derogatis, 1983). We also examined the role of emerging insight in the aetiology of depression in this population. Two clusters of cognitive dysfunction were observed, one group of primarily herpes simplex cases showing a severe generalised deficit across a number of cognitive domains and a second cluster showing a variety of more isolated disorders of executive function. Abnormally high levels of distress were reported by participants, with depression, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, interpersonal sensitivity and phobic anxiety most significantly increased. Depression was found to be least severe in those with most accurate insight into their problems. Examining the correlations between cognitive and psychiatric test results demonstrates a relationship between depression and interpersonal anxiety and specific cognitive measures. Obsessive-compulsive behaviour and phobic anxiety, however, appear to exist independently of the assessed cognitive deficits.

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