An Investigation of the Relationship Between Structural Disruption and Functional Connectivity in Multiple Sclerosis and its Effect on Cognition
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Although previous research has established a link between structural damage and functional reorganization in Multiple Sclerosis, it remains unclear what mediates this link and how it affects people with MS. Using neuroimaging techniques such as MRI and fMRI, it is possible to examine several resting state functional networks to determine whether certain networks of brain activity differ in how they functionally change in response to structural damage brought about by MS. Using a general linear model, we were able to show that there exists a significant relationship between structural and functional connectivity among nine resting state networks. This relationship was strongest among more abstract higher order networks such as the default mode network or the executive control network. Changes in functional connectivity may also help explain the concept of cognitive reserve in MS, where some people show less cognitive dysfunction despite a similar amount of white and grey matter atrophy. We again used a general linear model to measure the interaction between structural and functional connectivity as it pertains to cognitive processing speed, and found that preservation of functional connectivity helps moderate cognitive reserve in people with MS.