J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 78:1387-1389 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2006.111195
  • Short report

Relation between cognitive dysfunction and reduced vital capacity in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

  1. S-M Kim1,
  2. K-M Lee1,
  3. Y-H Hong2,
  4. K S Park1,
  5. J-H Yang1,
  6. H-W Nam2,
  7. J-J Sung1,
  8. K-W Lee1
  1. 1
    Department of Neurology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  2. 2
    Department of Neurology, Seoul Boramae Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  1. Dr K-W Lee, Department of Neurology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Yon-Gun Dong, Chong-Ro, Seoul, Korea; kwoo{at}
  • Received 14 November 2006
  • Revised 22 May 2007
  • Accepted 4 June 2007
  • Published Online First 8 June 2007


Background: Many patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with cognitive impairment have fronto-temporal dysfunction. Whereas in some patients with ALS the fronto-temporal dysfunction is undoubtedly due to the degenerative process associated with the disease, in others dysfunction cannot be accounted for by an irreversible degenerative process alone, as it also appears to involve a reversible process. We hypothesised that reduced vital capacity can be a key contributor to the fronto-temporal dysfunction observed in patients with ALS.

Objective: To investigate the association between fronto-temporal dysfunction and reduced vital capacity in ALS.

Methods: 16 consecutive patients who conformed to a diagnosis of definite or probable ALS (El escorial criteria) were grouped by vital capacity, and their clinical characteristics and cognitive functions, including disease duration, attention, executive function and memory, were measured.

Results: Patients with a reduced vital capacity performed significantly poorer in memory retention (p = 0.028), retrieval efficacy (p = 0.003), spoken verbal fluency (p = 0.03) and spoken verbal fluency indexes (p = 0.016) than those with a normal vital capacity.

Conclusion: The fronto-temporal dysfunction in ALS might be attributable to potentially reversible secondary effects associated with reduced vital capacity, as well as to the primary degenerative process.


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale Revised
    forced vital capacity
    Mini-Mental State Examination

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