The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society awarded Victoria Leavitt, Ph.D., a $44,000 grant to study the effects of intellectual enrichment on cognitive decline in individual with multiple sclerosis. Participants in Dr. Leavitt's study will use iPads to engage in home-based activities such as reading, puzzle solving, and games for 12 weeks. Dr. Leavitt, a scientist in Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation, will correlate improvements in cognition with changes in neural network activity on fMRI. This one-year pilot project is titled, A Randomized Controlled Trial of Intellectual Enrichment to Build Cognitive Reserve in Multiple Sclerosis (NMSS grant # PP1854)
"This exciting study extends our innovative research of the cognitive effects of MS," said John DeLuca, PhD, VP of Research & Training. Prior work done at Kessler Foundation by Dr. James Sumowski showed for the first time the protective effect of cognitive reserve in people with MS. Dr. Sumowski, a research scientist in Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research, found that individuals with MS who have a history of a mentally enriching lifestyle are better protected against cognitive decline (Neurology. 2010 June 15; 74(24): 1942). That cognitive reserve is an independent protective factor helps explain the lack of correlation between degree of brain atrophy and cognitive function.