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MS researchers find brain & cognitive reserve protect long-term against cognitive decline

West Orange, NJ. April 30, 2014. Multiple sclerosis researchers have found that brain reserve and cognitive reserve confer a long-term protective effect against cognitive decline: Sumowski JF, Rocca MA, Leavitt VM, Dackovic J, Mesaros S, Drulovic J, Deluca J, Filippi M. Brain reserve and cognitive reserve protect against cognitive decline over 4.5 years in MS. Neurology. 2014 Apr 18. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000433 [Epub ahead of print]. James Sumowski, PhD, lead author of the article, and John DeLuca, PhD, are at Kessler Foundation. Co-authors are from the Manhattan Memory Center, New York, NY, the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy, and the University of Belgrade, Serbia. Neurology is the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sumowski presented this research at the 2014 AAN conference in Philadelphia.

"Our research aims to answer these questions," explained Dr. DeLuca. "Why do some people with MS experience disabling symptoms of cognitive decline, while others maintain their cognitive abilities despite neuroimaging evidence of significant disease progression? Can the theories of brain reserve and cognitive reserve explain this dichotomy? Can we identify predictors of cognitive decline?"

In this study, memory, cognitive efficiency, vocabulary (a measure of intellectual enrichment/cognitive reserve), brain volume (a measure of brain reserve), and disease progression on MRI, were evaluated in 40 patients with MS at baseline and at 4.5-year followup. After controlling for disease progression, scientists looked at the impact of brain volume and intellectual enrichment on cognitive decline.

Results supported the protective effects of brain reserve and cognitive reserve," noted Dr. Sumowski. "Patients with greater intellectual enrichment experienced lesser degrees of cognitive decline. Those with greater brain reserve showed a protective effect for cognitive efficiency. This study not only confirms these protective effects of brain and cognitive reserve, it shows that these beneficial effects persist for years."


Contact: Carolann Murphy
Kessler Foundation

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