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Dissecting the cognitive phenotype of post-stroke fatigue using drift diffusion modeling of sustained attention

By Kristine M. Ulrichsen, Dag Alnæs, Knut K. Kolskår, Genevieve Richard, Anne-Marthe Sanders, Erlend S. Dørum, Hege Ihle-Hansen, Mads L. Pedersen, Sveinung Tornås, Jan Egil Nordvik, Lars T. Westlye

Posted 20 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/582502

Post-stroke fatigue (PSF) is a prevalent symptom among stroke patients. Its symptom burden is pervasive, persistent and associated with poor rehabilitation outcomes, though its mechanisms are poorly understood. Many patients with PSF experience cognitive difficulties, but studies aiming to identify cognitive correlates of PSF have been largely inconclusive. In contrast to conventional neuropsychological assessment, computational modeling of behavioral data allows for a dissection of specific cognitive processes associated with group or individual differences in fatigue. With the aim to zero in on the cognitive phenotype of PSF, we fitted a hierarchical drift diffusion model (hDDM) to response time data from Attention Network Test (ANT) obtained from 53 chronic stroke patients. The computational model accurately reconstructed the individual level response time distributions in the different ANT conditions, and hDDM regressions identified an interaction between trial number and fatigue symptoms on non-decision time, intuitively indicating that the cognitive phenotype of fatigue entails an increased vulnerability to sustained attentional effort. These novel results demonstrate the significance of considering the sustained nature of cognitive effort when defining the cognitive phenotype of post-stroke fatigue, and suggest that the use of computational approaches offers a further characterization of the specific processes underlying observed behavioral differences.

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