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Hum Brain Mapp. 2003 Oct;20(2):51-8.

Compensatory cortical activation observed by fMRI during a cognitive task at the earliest stage of MS.

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Centre de Résonance Magnétique Biologique et Médicale, UMR CNRS no. 6612, Faculté de Médecine, Marseille, France.


Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have suggested that functional cortical changes seen in patients with early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) can have an adaptive role to limit the clinical impact of tissue injury. To determine whether cortical reorganization occurs during high cognitive processes at the earliest stage of multiple sclerosis (MS), we performed an fMRI experiment using the conventional Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) as paradigm in a population of ten patients with clinically isolated syndrome suggestive of multiple sclerosis (CISSMS). At the time of the fMRI exploration, mean disease duration was 6.8 +/- 3.3 months. We compared these results to those obtained in a group of ten education-, age-, and sex-matched healthy controls. Subjects were explored on a 1.5 T MRI system using single-shot gradient-echo EPI sequence. Performances of the two groups during PASAT recorded inside the MR scanner were not different. Statistical assessment of brain activation was based on the random effect analysis (between-group analysis two-sample t-test P < 0.005 confirmed by individual analyses performed in the surviving regions P < 0.05 Mann Whitney U-test). Compared to controls, patients showed significantly greater activation in the right frontopolar cortex, the bilateral lateral prefrontal cortices, and the right cerebellum. Healthy controls did not show greater activation compared to CISSMS patients. The present study argues in favor of the existence of compensatory cortical activations at the earliest stage of MS mainly located in regions involved in executive processing in patients performing PASAT. It also suggests that fMRI can evidence the active processes of neuroplasticity contributing to mask the clinical cognitive expression of brain pathology at the earliest stage of MS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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