A preliminary study of the different memory systems in neurofibromatosis type 1: What is impaired and what is spared?



      Since 1990's, the cognitive profile of children with a neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) has been refined by many different studies. Children with NF1 may exhibit a variety of cognitive dysfunctions. Memory difficulties have been reported, but the results are contradictory and, compared to other cognitive functions, memory has been less evaluated.


      The aim of this study was to investigate the memory profile in NF1 with a particular population, children with NF1 without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


      Eighteen children with NF1 without ADHD and eighteen typically developing aged from 8 to 12.6 years were compared in terms of both their verbal and visual working memory, anterograde memory, and procedural perceptual-motor memory. We also assessed semantic and autobiographical memory.


      Our results indicate the existence of memory difficulties in children with NF1 without ADHD in verbal working and anterograde memory but not in terms of the visual domain. They also experienced difficulties recalling personal memories but these were improved by cueing. However, semantic memory and procedural perceptual-motor memory was preserved.


      These results highlight a difference between memory systems in children with NF1 without ADHD and the importance to assess the different memory systems, the nature of information and the processes in long-term memory in NF1 population. However, our results raise questions about the possible links between these difficulties and the executive functions. The specifics of memory profile in children with NF1 must be taken into consideration in these children’s clinical follow-up, in order to understand their learning difficulties and to make adaptations to their care.


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