The majority of MS’ers develop significant clinical disability, however a subset experiences a disease course with minimal impairment even in the presence of significant apparent brain tissue damage on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Epub ahead of print: Colorado et al. Multi-task functional MRI in multiple sclerosis patients without clinical disability. Neuroimage. 2011 Aug 5.
“Stated simply; despite evidence brain damage secondary to MS some MS’ers have very little disability.”
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in MS’ers with low disability suggests that compensation via increased use of other brain areas reduced the clinical manifestation of the disease.
“fMRI is a research tool for looking at how much of the brain is being used to do a specific task; it works by indirectly measuring how much oxygen is being consumed by various areas of the brain.”
This study investigated whether, or not, non-disabled MS’ers show increased recruitment of other brain regions while performing various tasks.
22 MS’ers with relapsing-remitting MS and minimal disability (EDSS ≤1.5) and 23 matched healthy controls were studied.
Compared to control subjects, MS’ers demonstrated increased activation of other brain areas to complete the tasks assigned.
Conclusion: These results support the mounting evidence of increased usage of other brain regions as a way the brain copes with the damage caused by MS.
“You may be interested to know that the use of these other regions correlates with MS-related fatigue; the more brain power it takes to achieve a task the more tiring it is.”
Additional reading: fMRI