People with multiple sclerosis may find it harder to learn, remember or process information on warmer days of the year, according to new information from a small study from the Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey.
"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.
For the study, 40 people with MS and 40 people without MS were given tests that measured learning, memory, and the speed at which they processed information. Those people with MS also underwent brain scans. The daily temperature on the days the tests were taken was also recorded.
The study found that people with MS scored 70 percent better on thinking tests during cooler days compared to warmer days of the year. There was no link between thinking test scores and temperature for those without MS.
"With more research, this information might help guide people with MS in life decisions and their doctors with clinical treatment. Scientists may also consider the effect of warmer weather on cognition when conducting clinical trials," says Leavitt.
These findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.