A Prospective Assessment of Cognitive Performance in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Reveals Persistent Visuospatial Memory Deficits
Kennedy PJ1,2, Clarke G1,2, Allen AP1,2, O’Neill A1, Groeger JA3#, Quigley EMM1,4##, Shanahan F1,4, Cryan JF1,5, Dinan TG1,2
1APC Microbiome Institute, 2Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Science, 3School of Applied Psychology, 4Department of Medicine, 5Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. #Current address: Department of Psychology, University of Hull, England, United Kingdom.
Recently, patients with IBS were found to exhibit visuospatial memory deficits (Kennedy et al., 2014). However, a prospective assessment is essential to confirm if cognitive dysfunction is a stable feature of IBS. In this study we aimed to prospectively assess visuospatial memory performance in IBS, in comparison to disease controls [Crohn’s diesase (CD] and healthy controls (HC).
At baseline (Visit 1) and 6 months (Visit 2), IBS patients (baseline n=39; age (M): 28 yrs), matched CD patients (baseline n=18;age (M):32 yrs), and matched HC (baseline n=40;age (M):28 yrs), were assessed using a selection of cognitive tests from the CANTAB and Stroop test. Abdominal pain severity at time of testing was reported by IBS patients on a scale ranging from 0-100. Results: At Visit 1 & 2,IBS patients displayed visuospatial memory deficits [Paired Associates Learning (PAL) test]; greater errors at the 6 pattern stage (baseline: p< 0.05), which also approached significance across Visit 1 & 2 (p=0.05); greater number of trials needed to complete the PAL [Visit 1 & 2 (p<0.05)]. Pain severity did not correlate with PAL performance (p>0.05).
Visuospatial memory dysfunction is a stable feature of IBS. These results may inform future management of this debilitating disorder in which there is a great unmet medical need.