Nancy Chiaravalloti, Ph.D.
Director, Neuroscience Research
Understanding and Treating Cognitive Deficits in Multiple Sclerosis
Cognitive deficits are common in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, exerting a negative impact on everyday life. The current presentation will review the cognitive profile of individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, focusing on the interaction of these deficits as well as their impact on higher level cognitive processing, such as new learning and memory. Neuropsychological Assessment and functional Neuroimaging has been applied to facilitate an understanding of cognition in MS and these studies will be reviewed. In addition, we have sought to rehabilitate new learning and memory abilities in persons with MS. Studies to date will be presented, particularly those focusing the modified Story Memory Technique (mSMT). The mSMT is a 10-session behavioral intervention that teaches the patient two skills to facilitate learning: context and imagery. Two Randomized Clinical Trials (RCT) have been conducted to examine changes in neuropsychological memory measures post-treatment. A third RCT examined changes in patterns of cerebral activation on fMRI post-treatment during performance of learning and memory tasks. Newly proposed studies will also be discussed.