Background: Identifying effective behavioral treatments to improve memory in persons with learning and memory impairment is a primary goal for neurorehabilitation researchers. Memory deficits are the most common cognitive symptom in MS, and hold negative professional and personal consequences for people who are often in the prime of their lives when diagnosed.
Epub: Leavitt et al. Increased functional connectivity within memory networks following memory rehabilitation in multiple sclerosis. Brain Imaging Behav. 2012 Jun 16.
Aim: To assess a behavioural treatment targeting memory.
Methods: A 10-session behavioural treatment, the modified Story Memory Technique (mSMT), was studied in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Results: Behavioral improvements and increased fMRI activation were shown after treatment. Connectivity within the neural networks underlying memory function was examined with resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) in a subset of participants from the clinical trial. The investigators hypothesized that the treatment would result in increased integrity of connections within two primary memory networks of the brain, the hippocampal memory network (area of the brain involved with memory), and the default network (DN). Seeds were placed in left and right hippocampus, and the posterior cingulate cortex.
Seeding is an imaging processing technique were you start or seed an area an work out from it.
Increased connectivity was found between left hippocampus and cortical regions specifically involved in memory for visual imagery, as well as among critical hubs of the DN.
Conclusion: These results represent the first evidence for efficacy of a behavioural intervention to impact the integrity of neural networks subserving memory functions in MSers.
“This and other studies are very important and give us a window on the future. We are beginning to use functional MRI, i.e. blood flow after activation of areas of the brain, to look at targeted intervention. The other important message in this study is that the field is beginning to focus on area of MS that has largely been ignored, i.e. the cognitive impairment. You don’t really appreciate, or may you do, how big this impact is. I am convinced that what drives most of the early problems in MS, i.e. fatigue, depression, loss of employment, relationship issues, etc. is due to grey matter disease and cognitive problems.”