Abstract

Ecological validity—the degree to which clinical tests of cognitive functioning predict functional impairment—has recently become an area of interest in neuropsychology. The current study used a sample of 31 cognitively and functionally impaired multiple sclerosis (MS) patients to determine if tests commonly used to assess memory and attentional functioning in MS are ecologically valid. Two methods of improving the ecological validity of cognitive testing were employed. Stepwise multiple regression analyses suggested that tests of memory and attention more analogous to everyday tasks are better predictors of functional impairment in MS than both standard clinical tests of memory and attention, and memory questionnaires completed by the patient or a significant other. Nonetheless, both standard clinical tests and more ecologically valid tests significantly predicted functional impairment. Importantly, they were not significantly correlated with one another, suggesting that the inclusion of both types of tests in evaluating MS patients is warranted.