Cognitive and Mood Profiles Among Patients With Stiff Person Syndrome Spectrum Disorders

Carol K. Chan, Daniela A. Pimentel Maldonado, Yujie Wang, Danielle Obando, Abbey J. Hughes, Scott D. Newsome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An emerging body of evidence suggests that changes in cognitive and emotional function are common aspects of stiff person spectrum disorders (SPSD). We sought to examine the pattern of cognitive impairment and psychiatric symptoms in SPSD. Methods: A retrospective review of medical records was conducted for patients seen at the Johns Hopkins Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) center from 1997 to January 1st, 2020. Individuals who had received formal cognitive testing as part of routine clinical care for patient-reported cognitive changes were included. Demographics, prevalence of cognitive impairment, psychoactive medication use, and clinically significant psychiatric symptoms were described. Results: Out of 205 patients screened, 20 completed cognitive testing (75% female, mean age 47.4 years). The most common domains of impairment were verbal learning and recall memory (n = 14, 70%), verbal fluency (n = 10, 50%), processing speed (n = 8, 40%), and attention (n = 8, 40%). 9/11 patients assessed for depression reported clinically significant symptoms, and 4/9 patients assessed for anxiety reported clinically significant symptoms. Conclusions: Screening for cognitive impairment in SPSD should utilize testing that assesses verbal learning and recall, phonemic verbal fluency, attention, and processing speed. Moreover, it is important to evaluate for co-existing depression and anxiety symptoms, as these are common in SPSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number865462
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - May 27 2022


  • anxiety
  • attention
  • cognition
  • depression
  • stiff person syndrome
  • verbal fluency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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