People with MS-related memory and attention problems have signs of extensive brain damage

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have cognitive problems, or problems with memory, attention, and concentration, have more damage to areas of the brain involved in cognitive processes than people with MS who do not have cognitive problems, according to a study published in the March 6, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study used a type of MRI brain scan called along with regular MRI scans to compare brain measurements in 20 people with MS who had related , 35 people with MS who did not have cognitive problems and 30 healthy participants.

The diffusion tensor images showed that, compared to the healthy , 49 percent of the investigated brain had impaired integrity in those with MS and no cognitive problems, while impaired integrity was evident in 76 percent of the investigated white matter of those with MS and related cognitive problems. In the people with MS-related cognitive problems, the extra white matter dysfunction was particularly seen in areas important for cognitive skills, such as the thalamus.

"This state-of-the-art imaging technology confirms that in MS have a biological basis," said study author Hanneke E. Hulst, MSc, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. "The consequence of this discovery is that imaging can now be used to capture a wider spectrum of changes in the brains of people with MS, and will therefore help determine more accurately whether new treatments are helping with all aspects of the disease."

Cognitive problems are common in MS, affecting up to 65 percent of people with the disease.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Smoking marijuana impairs cognitive function in MS patients

Feb 13, 2008

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who smoke marijuana are more likely to have emotional and memory problems, according to research published February 13, 2008, in the online edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Marijuana use may hurt intellectual skills in MS patients

Mar 28, 2011

Any possible pain relief that marijuana has for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may be outweighed by the drug's apparent negative effect on thinking skills, according to research published in the March 29, 2011, print ...

Recommended for you

Emotional adjustment following traumatic brain injury

Oct 24, 2014

Life after a traumatic brain injury resulting from a car accident, a bad fall or a neurodegenerative disease changes a person forever. But the injury doesn't solely affect the survivor – the lives of their spouse or partner ...

New ALS associated gene identified using innovative strategy

Oct 22, 2014

Using an innovative exome sequencing strategy, a team of international scientists led by John Landers, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has shown that TUBA4A, the gene encoding the Tubulin Alpha 4A protein, ...

User comments