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Neuroimage. 2012 Jan 2;59(1):573-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.065. Epub 2011 Aug 5.

Multi-task functional MRI in multiple sclerosis patients without clinical disability.

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Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


While the majority of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) develop significant clinical disability, a subset experiences a disease course with minimal impairment even in the presence of significant apparent tissue damage on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in MS patients with low disability suggests that increased use of the cognitive control system may limit the clinical manifestation of the disease. The current fMRI studies tested the hypothesis that nondisabled MS patients show increased recruitment of cognitive control regions while performing sensory, motor and cognitive tasks. Twenty two patients with relapsing-remitting MS and an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of ≤1.5 and 23 matched healthy controls were recruited. Subjects underwent fMRI while observing flashing checkerboards, performing right or left hand movements, or executing the 2-back working memory task. Compared to control subjects, patients demonstrated increased activation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex during the performance of the working memory task. This pattern of functional recruitment also was observed during the performance of non-dominant hand movements. These results support the mounting evidence of increased functional recruitment of cognitive control regions in the working memory system of MS patients with low disability and provide new evidence for the role of increased cognitive control recruitment in the motor system.

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