Language impairment in motor neurone disease

J Neurol Sci. 1998 Oct:160 Suppl 1:S47-52. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(98)00198-1.


Evidence from recent neuropsychological studies of patients with motor neurone disease (MND) has demonstrated that some patients have cognitive impairment. This challenges traditional teaching that MND is a disease with only motor symptoms. Language processing in MND patients has so far not been studied in any depth, but has only been touched upon as a part of general cognition. This study has assessed nine MND subjects on a range of standardised language assessments and compared their performance to that of nine control subjects. Although this is a small experimental sample of subjects, the results of this study indicate that language impairment is present in some patients with MND. The deficits are subtle and only exposed on formal testing. It is not possible to define the nature of the language impairment from this restricted set of data, but there was evidence of some deficits in a sub-group of MND patients on tasks involving naming, auditory comprehension of complex sentences, some semantic tests and spelling. The implications of these findings are discussed in relationship to the clinical management of patients with MND.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / complications*
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neuron Disease / complications*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric