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

March 6, 2013

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.

Explore further: Gingko biloba does not improve cognition in MS patients, study finds

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Chatter in the deep brain spurs empathy in rats

June 23, 2017

It's a classic conundrum: while rushing to get to an important meeting or appointment on time, you spot a stranger in distress. How do you decide whether to stop and help, or continue on your way?

How brains surrender to sleep

June 23, 2017

Scientists at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna study fundamental aspects of sleep in roundworms. Using advanced technologies, they monitor the activity of all nerve cells in the brain while they ...

The neural relationship between light and sleep

June 23, 2017

Humans are diurnal animals, meaning that we usually sleep at night and are awake during the day, due at least in part to light or the lack thereof. Light is known to affect sleep indirectly by entraining—modifying the length ...

How pheromones trigger female sexual behavior

June 22, 2017

A study by a group of Japanese scientists showed how a male pheromone in mice enhances sexual behaviors in females—and how it may enhance a different behavior, aggression, in males—by identifying distinct neural circuits ...

Coupling of movement and vision

June 22, 2017

In a study published in Cell, Georg Keller and his group shed light on neural circuits in the cortex that underlie the integration of movement and visual feedback. They identified a mechanism in the visual cortex responsible ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.