Cognitive changes are an integral feature of Huntington’s disease that are present early in the course of the condition and become more severe with disease progression. Forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention and maintaining concentration and a general ‘slowing’ of cognition are common early symptoms of HD, all of which can have a big impact on work and everyday life.
If treatments for HD are to be successful, it is important that they address cognitive symptoms as well as the more commonly recognised motor symptoms. In this context, it is crucial to know which aspects of cognition are the most sensitive to HD and to develop accurate and reliable methods of measuring these changes.Description
The primary aims of the Cognitive Phenotype Working Group are as follows:
- To develop a neuropsychological battery to be used in the EHDN REGISTRY Project.
- To improve standardisation of neuropsychological test administration in order to increase data reliability.
- To develop novel assessment tools and evaluate their sensitivity to the progression of HD for potential use as outcome measures in therapeutic trials.
- To carry out collaborative neuropsychological studies aiming to extend the theoretical understanding of HD.
An instruction manual has been developed in order to improve the standardisation of neuropsychological test administration. With the help of our working group and other EHDN members, this manual is being translated into various European languages. An important next step is to collect normative data across the different European languages. A pilot study comparing Dutch, English and French has been carried out and a large scale study will soon begin.
We are also in the process of developing a training video to guide the administration and scoring of the REGISTRY neuropsychological assessment. Other study protocols under development include the evaluation of a visual memory test, a syntactic comprehension test and a tapping test.