The National Multiple Sclerosis Society awarded Dr. Bart Rypma, associate professor at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas, more than $490,000 to investigate how changes in brain blood flow impact cognition for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
“Multiple sclerosis affects over 2.3 million people worldwide, and those diagnosed often complain of an overall slowing of thought,” said Bart Rypma, Ph.D., principle investigator who holds the Meadows Foundation Chair at The University of Texas at Dallas. “Still, very little is known about what changes occur in the brain that cause cognitive slowing in MS. Using fMRI to examine cerebral blood flow and neural metabolic rate, we hope to pinpoint the brain systems responsible.”
As part of the study, eighty research participants will undergo structural and functional brain imaging and neuropsychological evaluation. Researchers will collect a unique set of measures never before collected in a single group of MS patients using the latest imaging techniques called calibrated functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion kurtosis imaging.
Brain imaging will allow researchers to observe neural metabolic rate, or where oxygen is delivered within the brain, how much oxygen those cells consume, and how changes to those factors could lead to cognitive slowing. Researchers will also assess which systems in the brain – visual, motor, or executive – most account for cognitive slowing. The newly awarded grant will build upon Dr. Rypma’s previous research on disconnections in brain networks and the cognitive effects of MS.
“Cognitive changes affect at least one half or more of people with MS,” says Nicholas LaRocca, PhD, Vice President, Health Care Delivery and Policy Research for the National MS Society. “Dr. Rypma’s study explores a biological basis that may help to explain these changes. This work can propel the knowledge necessary to provide everyday solutions for the cognitive problems experienced by people with MS.”
Visit the Multiple Sclerosis page to view more information about ongoing Multiple Sclerosis research at the Center for BrainHealth.