Cognitive deficits correlate with MRI changes in normal appearing brain tissue

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Background:  The disease load in MS often is based on the visible lesion volume on MRI. The subtle changes in the  normal appearing brain tissue are rarely considered.

Study objectives: This study investigated whether MRI changes in the normal appearing brain tissue explained part of the cognitive impairment seen in MS’ers  
Results: In this study a significant correlation was found between total lesion volume (normal and abnormal appearing tissue) and general cognitive dysfunction, verbal intelligence, mental processing speed, visual problem solving and complex motor speed.
Conclusion:  These results show that even in the normal appearing brain tissue MRI detects changes likely to be associated with an underlying pathology and contributes to the cognitive impairment in MS.
“This study confirms several other studies in that MRI lesion load correlates with cognitive impairment.” 

“Some studies have shown that DMTs, which reduce the burden of disease, also slow the rate at which cognition is affected in MS’ers. Unfortunately, not all trials have collected relevant outcome data on cognition.”


“I sincerely hope that the more effective DMTs that are emerging will have a greater impact on this hidden disability (very few neurologists check for cognitive impairment).”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

2 comments

  • The BBC is reporting that the numbers of US women having a stroke during pregnancy has surged. The incidents increased from 4,085 in 1994-5 to 6,293 in 2006-7, the journal Stroke suggests.

    The BBC said: “It is thought other risk factors such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes may be to blame.”

    Does that mean MS patients are also prone to strokes during pregnancy?

  • Re stroke in pregnancy. Yes, MSers are not immune to other factors that the general population are exposed to. One factor that is important re stroke is the average age of having children has increased dramatically; age is a major risk factor for stroke.

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