High openness and high extroversion are linked with better time-based prospective memory in multiple sclerosis

J Neurol. 2019 Nov;266(11):2665-2671. doi: 10.1007/s00415-019-09460-4. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


Background: Prospective memory (PM) deficits are often reported in multiple sclerosis (MS), but their relationship with neuropsychological characteristics and personality traits remains to be explored.

Objective: To systematically investigate both time-based and event-based PM abilities in a sample of MS without clinically relevant disability or global cognitive decline and to explore cognitive, neuropsychiatric characteristics and personality traits associated with PM deficits.

Methods: Thirty-three patients with MS and 33 healthy individuals were enrolled in the study. All participants underwent a standardized measure of PM to evaluate both time-based and event-based PM. Moreover, patients with MS completed the Brief Repeatable Battery to assess cognitive functioning, the Beck Depression Inventory-II and the Dimensional Apathy Scale to assess neuropsychiatric characteristics, and the NEO Personality Inventory-3 to assess personality traits.

Results: Individuals with MS demonstrated impaired time-based PM compared to healthy individuals. The regression analysis showed that poor performance in time-based PM was significantly related to lower extroversion and openness traits, whereas poor performance in event-based PM was significantly related to lower visuospatial memory abilities.

Conclusions: Low levels of openness and extroversion traits are associated with a greater risk of developing time-based PM deficit. Therefore, personality assessment and behavioural interventions should be encouraged in MS clinical practice.

Keywords: Apathy; Cognitive functioning; Multiple sclerosis; Personality; Prospective memory.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Extraversion, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*