Skip to main content

Assessment of cognitive dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis using the simultaneous acquisition of event-related potentials and functional magnetic resonance imaging during executive tasks

Final Report Summary - MS, fMRI, ERP (Assessment of cognitive dysfunction in multiple sclerosis using the simultaneous acquisition of event-related potentials and magnetic resonance imaging ...)

This project was mostly tailored in order for the researcher to reach a realistic objective in terms of career advancement like strengthening or attaining a leading independent position, thereby contributing to enhance EU scientific excellence and to advance the state-of-the-art within the project field. Moreover, this project is also aimed at a very important and tricking scientific issue, from both a clinical (cognitive involvement in Multiple Sclerosis -MS) and technical (co-registration of event-related potentials -ERPs- and functional magnetic resonance imaging -fMRI) point of view.

The MS is the most common disabling neurological disease in young adults in Europe. In early stages of MS the cost of relapses and cognitive impairment can be measured not only in terms of functional disability, but also in direct medical cost, productivity losses and important declines in quality of life of these patients. Therefore, this project was also designed to provide an important advancement in the knowledge of the physiopathology of cognitive involvement in MS and in the methodology of its objective assessment, which will have a positive impact for the EU also in relation to other diseases involving cognition.

The combination of these two techniques may therefore provide unique insights into information processing. Firstly, ERP/fMRI provides non-invasive and relatively direct real-time record and anatomical distribution information of the neural events accompanying performance on a task. With this in mind, we decided to develop our project over a period of two years. Firstly, our study was addressed to validate the co-recording of ERPs and fMRI signal at a 1.5T and a 3T scanner activity. New strategies to achieve multimodal integration of both ERP and fMRI information have been also developed by us, which may provide a better understanding on spatio-temporal course of both physiological and pathological brain function.

In relation to results of our research project, we have demonstrated our ability for ERP recoding simultaneously to fMRI acquisitions. Further, we have validated different strategies for the subsequent artefact removal related to simultaneous EER/fMRI recordings. Our main results have also provided evidence on the time-course of activity in different brain regions related to performance of well-characterised ERP cognitive tasks. With this respect, we have obtained new insights on some motor and cognitive abnormalities as well as compensatory mechanisms and cortical plasticity patterns in patients with MS and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Furthermore, we have also identified some modifications in the nervous motor system associated with different morphological changes that occur in normal aging, providing evidence about selectivity in activating the brain areas in order to implement compensatory mechanism to produce an optimum performance. By demonstrating multimodal integration method of ERP/fMRI data our studies may provide useful information for future research in this field. The Marie Curie fellow, Dr. Javier Gonzalez-Rosa, has benefited from the stimulating environment provided by the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan and different research groups integrated in this Institution. He has improved his knowledge and developed innovative technical tools and new research skills by attending practical courses and by actively participating in the development and application of research methodologies. He has also attended off-institution workshops on new tools in the field of simultaneous EGG/fMRI recordings as well as multimodal integration of electrophysiological and functional data, participating in several national and international conferences and congress. Dr. Javier Gonzalez-Rosa has keenly developed a fruitful relationship with work colleagues, including co-workers, engineers and graduate students from the departments of my Institution, and healthy volunteers/ patients participating in the study.