As Temperature Rises, Cognitive Skills Decline in Persons With MS

April 12, 2011

Warm weather can impair the ability of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) to learn, remember, and process information, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011

Warm weather can impair the ability of persons  with multiple sclerosis (MS) to learn, remember, and process information, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.

For the study, 40 persons with MS and 40 healthy controls were given tests that measured learning, memory, and information processing speed. Those with MS also underwent brain scans. The daily temperature on the days the tests were taken was also recorded.

The study found that persons with MS scored 70% percent better on cognitive tests during cooler days compared with warmer days of the year. There was no link between test scores and temperature for study participants without MS.

"Studies have linked warmer weather to increased disease activity and lesions in people with MS, but this is the first research to show a possible link between warm weather and cognition, or thinking skills, in people with the disease," said study author Victoria Leavitt, PhD, with the Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey.