The cognitive profile of myotonic dystrophy type 1: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Cortex. 2017 Oct:95:143-155. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.08.008. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


Objective: To examine the cognitive profile of patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) on the basis of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature.

Methods: Embase, Medline and PsycInfo were searched for studies reporting ≥1 neuropsychological test in both DM1 patients and healthy controls. Search, data extraction and risk of bias analysis were independently performed by two authors to minimize error. Neuropsychological tests were categorized into 12 cognitive domains and effect sizes (Hedges' g) were calculated for each domain and for tests administered in ≥5 studies.

Results: DM1 participants demonstrated a significantly worse performance compared to controls in all cognitive domains. Effect sizes ranged from -.33 (small) for verbal memory to -1.01 (large) for visuospatial perception. Except for the domains global cognition, intelligence and social cognition, wide confidence intervals (CIs) were associated with moderate to marked statistical heterogeneity that necessitates careful interpretation of results. Out of the individual tests, the Rey-Osterrieth complex figure-copy (both non-verbal memory and visuoconstruction) showed consistent impairment with acceptable heterogeneity.

Conclusion: In DM1 patients, cognitive deficits may include a variable combination of global cognitive impairment with involvement across different domains, including social cognition, memory and visuospatial functioning. Although DM1 is a heterogeneous disorder, our study shows that meta-analysis is feasible, contributes to the understanding of brain involvement and may direct bedside testing. The protocol for this study has been registered in PROSPERO (International prospective register of systematic reviews) under ID: 42016037415.

Keywords: Cognitive disorders; Muscle disease; Trinucleotide repeat diseases.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / complications*
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Social Perception
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*