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Video Game-Based Cognitive Rehab Program Beneficial in MS

Intervention tied to changes in functional connectivity, correlating with cognitive improvement

WEDNESDAY, March 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A video game-based cognitive rehabilitation program is associated with changes in thalamocortical functional connectivity (FC) among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published online March 8 in Radiology.

Laura De Giglio, M.D., Ph.D., from the Sapienza University of Rome, and colleagues conducted a prospective study involving 24 patients with MS and cognitive impairment. Participants were randomized to an intervention, which included a video game-based cognitive rehabilitation program or a wait-list group (controls). At baseline and after an eight-week period, patients were evaluated with cognitive tests and 3-Tesla resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Eleven healthy subjects also underwent functional MRI.

The researchers found that after eight weeks of cognitive rehabilitation there was a significant improvement in the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test and the Stroop Test (P = 0.018 and 0.030, respectively). Compared with the control group, the intervention group had increased FC in the cingulum, precuneus, and bilateral parietal cortex, and lower FC in the cerebellum and in the left prefrontal cortex at follow-up. There were correlations between FC changes in these regions and improvement in cognition (P < 0.05).

“The results of this study show the relevance of thalamic regulation of the brain networks involved in cognition and suggest that changes in thalamic resting-state network connectivity may represent a functional substrate for cognitive improvement associated with a video game-based cognitive rehabilitation program,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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