National Multiple Sclerosis Society awards grant for pilot study of social interaction in individuals with MS

MS researchers conduct first study of outcome processing during social interactions in individuals with multiple sclerosis

Ekaterina Dobryakova, PhD, and Pei-Pei Liu, PhD, were awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society to conduct a novel study of outcome processing in individuals with MS. This pilot study will be conducted at Kessler Foundation, where Dr. Dobryakova is a research scientist in the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research. Dr. Liu, a former post-doctoral fellow at the Foundation, will consult on this project.

Individuals with MS often show impairments in learning and experience difficulties during social interactions. The ability to learn from the outcomes of one's actions, referred to as outcome processing, plays a critical role in choosing the optimal action. Poor outcome processing can adversely impact an individual's choices made in social environments and during social interactions, including rehabilitation settings. Despite the critical implications for individuals with these deficits, this is the first study to examine outcome processing during social interactions in individuals with MS.

Understanding how MS affects outcome processing is an important step toward maximizing their competence in social interactions at home, at work or school, and in the community. "To examine outcome processing in this population, we will look at how individuals process the outcomes of their actions during cooperative interactions, in which they choose whether or not to cooperate with others," explained Dr. Dobryakova. "In this study, reciprocation is considered a positive outcome during cooperative interactions. We will focus on how individuals react when reciprocation is immediate and when reciprocation is delayed. We anticipate that individuals with MS will understand delayed reciprocation better than immediate reciprocation."


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