Cognitive Rehabilitation Improves Brain Function in MS

Changes in brain activity for patients with relapsing-remitting MS who undergo cognitive rehab

THURSDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrates that patients with relapsing-remitting (RR) multiple sclerosis (MS) who respond to 12 weeks of computer-assisted cognitive rehabilitation with improved attention, information processing, and executive functions have modified brain activity, according to research published in the March issue of Radiology.

Massimo Filippi, M.D., of the Hospital San Raffaele in Milan, and colleagues investigated brain changes in 20 patients with RR MS and cognitive deficits at baseline. Ten participants were randomly allocated to computer-assisted cognitive rehabilitation of attention and information processing and executive functions and 10 patients served as controls. MRI and a standardized neuropsychiatric assessment were performed at baseline and after 12 weeks.

Compared with the baseline performance, the researchers found that there was improvement in tests of attention, information processing, and executive functions in patients in the treatment group. Gray matter volume and normal-appearing white matter architecture were not changed in either group. However, changes in the activity of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC)/precuneus and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) were observed in the treatment group during the Stroop task. Compared with the control group, treated patients also exhibited modified activity in the anterior cingulum, PCC and/or precuneus, and left dorsolateral PFC at rest. These functional MRI changes correlated with cognitive improvement in the treatment group.

"Rehabilitation of attention and information processing and executive functions in RR MS may be effected through enhanced recruitment of brain networks subserving the trained functions," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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