Pure Alexia & Multiple Sclerosis

María K. Jónsdóttir, PhD; Torfi Magnússon, MD; Ólafur Kjartansson, MD
Arch Neurol 1998;55:1473-1474


To describe Pure Alexia and Auditory Comprehension problems in a young woman with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

A 33-year-old woman with MS who complained of difficulties in Reading and Comprehending Spoken Language was referred for a Neuropsychological Examination.

Reading difficulties were confirmed and most of the reading errors were additions, omissions, and substitutions of single letters.

While the patient reported that the letters seemed to disappear before her eyes, no general problems with Visual Attention, Visual Discrimination, or were detected.

No difficulties with Spelling were reported. The Auditory Comprehension Deficit is interpreted as a form of a Semantic Access Disorder and is not due to generalized slowing in Information Processing or Conceptual Disintegration.

Pure Alexia is unusual in MS and to our knowledge only 1 other case has been reported (in Japanese).

Memory Impairments and Slowed Information Processing are probably the most frequent Cognitive sequelae of the disease and, consequently, the literature is biased toward the study of those Cognitive domains.

However, given the wide distribution of sclerotic plaques in MS, it could be argued that we should expect some variability of Cognitive changes in MS. Striking deficits as seen in this patient should make us more sensitive to this possibility.

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