sealPurdue News

January 2, 2003

Multiple sclerosis cognitive study seeks healthy adults

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Healthy adults are needed for a Purdue University study that could help multiple sclerosis patients improve their quality of life and cognitive function.

The research, which is being conducted by Robert Kail, professor in the psychological sciences department in the School of Liberal Arts, will require about 90 healthy adults ages 30 to 55.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease that can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors and numbness, as well as problems with memory and concentration. However, cognitive problems involving memory, concentration and reasoning are often ignored in multiple sclerosis patients' quality of life issues, Kail said.

"Physical concerns are usually the focus when caring for multiple sclerosis patients," Kail said. "Twenty-five years ago the prevailing wisdom was that there are no cognitive consequences in multiple sclerosis, but we now know otherwise. It is now clear that cognitive processing, reasoning and short-term memory are the most constant cognitive difficulties associated with multiple sclerosis, and it's vital to those with this disease that we measure the disease's effect on these three areas."

The research team already has interviewed multiple sclerosis patients in Indiana and Illinois and now needs healthy adults for comparative purposes.

Participants will be asked questions that test their short-term memory, reasoning and how they process information. The tests take about one and a half to two hours, and the participant receives $20.

Kail's research is being funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Multiple sclerosis affects 2.5 million people in the United States, most of them women. The disease occurs when myelin, which acts as an insulator around the central nervous system's nerve fibers, begins to deteriorate. Scar tissue, known as sclerotic, forms on the fibers and interrupts the transmission of information through the central nervous system.

For more information about being part of the study contact Wenonah Campbell, research project coordinator, at (765) 494-0986,

CONTACT: Kail, (765) 494-6921,; Campbell, (765) 494-0986,

Related Web sites:
National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page