ECAS cognition executive dysfunction verbal fluency ALS


Rethinking cognition in ALS A new multi-domain screening measure aims to identify cognitive changes in people with ALS. Learn more by checking out our Postcard from Scotland.

Nearly 50% of people with ALS by some estimates experience cognitive challenges. But for many people with ALS, these changes can often be undetected. 

Existing screening measures frequently look for difficulties in critical thinking and problem solving (executive function) – overlooking potential challenges including expressing thoughts, interpreting emotions and producing words. What’s more, many of these tools were designed for people with other neurological conditions.  And, do not account for physical challenges inherent to the disease.

Now, University of Edinburgh neuropsychologist Sharon Abrahams PhD hopes to change that by introducing the multi-domain Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioral Screen (ECAS).  The 15 to 20 minute test, designed to be administered by health professionals, aims to identify people with cognitive challenges as quickly as possible in hopes to better manage their disease.

Ahead of the European Network for the Cure of ALS (ENCALS) 2013 meeting, ALS’s Michelle Pflumm PhD talked to Sharon Abrahams PhD about our growing understanding of cognitive changes in ALS and the impact of the ECAS going forward.