Taking time to plan

Epub: Owens et al. Difficulties in Planning Among Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Relative Consequence of Deficits in Information Processing Speed. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2013 Feb 21:1-8.

Background: Previous studies show that MS patients take longer than healthy controls to plan their solutions to Tower of London (TOL) problems but yield conflicting results regarding the quality of their solutions. 

Objective: The present study evaluated performance under untimed or timed conditions to assess the possibility that differences in planning ability only occur when restrictions in solution times are imposed. 

Methods: MS patients (n = 39) and healthy controls (n = 43) completed a computerized version of the TOL under one of two conditions. In the untimed condition, participants were allowed as much time as needed on each problem. In the timed condition, limits were imposed on solution times and time remaining was displayed with each problem. 

Results: Patients exhibited longer planning times than controls, and the disparity between groups increased with problem difficulty. Planning performance depended upon condition. In the untimed condition, patients and controls performed equally well. When solution times were restricted, however, patients solved fewer problems than controls. MS patients' planning ability is intact when permitted sufficient time to formulate the required plan. 

Conclusion: Deficiencies in planning are only evident when time is restricted, and, therefore, are more accurately considered a relative consequence of disease-related problems in information processing speed. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1-8).

This study looked at the time to do a problem solving test and when given unlimited time MSers did just as well as non-MSers, but when there was a time restriction, MSers were slower. So make sure you give yourself extra time.

Were you aware of the issues in this post? It would be great if you could complete this survey for us so that we can find out. Thanks.