Correlates of executive function in multiple sclerosis: the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy as an index of focal pathology

J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1999 Winter;11(1):45-50. doi: 10.1176/jnp.11.1.45.


Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was performed in a group of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and matched control subjects to examine the relationship between frontal lobe pathology and performance on tests of executive function. The N-acetyl aspartate/creatine ratio (NAA/Cr) was significantly reduced in frontal lesions and/or normal-appearing white matter in the patient group compared with the control group, but choline/creatine ratios did not differ. Although MRS abnormalities and executive deficits were not correlated for MS patients as a group, a few patients with more severe abnormalities of NAA/Cr ratio performed worse than other patients on the spatial working memory test, suggesting that subtle frontal neuropathological abnormalities detected by MRS may contribute to executive deficits. Further investigation is warranted to determine the value of MRS as an index of the pathophysiological processes leading to cognitive deficit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Attention / physiology
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Creatine / analysis*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / chemistry
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Neural Pathways / chemistry
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Volition / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Creatine