Robby: How can MS impair memory function?
Professor Dawn Langdon, Neuropsychologist: Well, what happens with MS, as you know, is that the structure of the brain gradually becomes less and less perfect and so the information that’s moving around the brain travels less and less efficiently. So sometimes things do get lost in the storage systems and the recall systems. Usually, it’s to do with remembering to do things, or it can be specifics or fine detail.
Robby: It’s easy to blame everything on MS, what else impairs memory?
Professor Dawn Langdon: Well, interestingly, there are a number of things that can affect your memory as well. So one is fatigue, another is depression or anxiety. And also, if you have any other additional problems like perhaps a urinary infection or flu or those kinds of problems, that can pull down your memory as well.
Robby: How so and how can flu affect your memory?
Professor Dawn Langdon: Well, one of the things that happens is that flu will raise your temperature, okay? You know, you feel hot, and we know that cognition in MS works less well if somebody’s very hot. So there’s studies from Finland where they put people in saunas and tested them before and afterwards and showed that.
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Professor Dawn Langdon is Professor of Neuropsychology at Royal Holloway University of London, she is co-chair at BICAMS, her other areas of expertise focus on BRIMMS (benefits and Risks of MS medications. She has been the neuropsychological lead on multiple MS trials in the pharmaceutical industry. She is also a trustee of the UK MS Trust.