Functional brain connectivity abnormalities and cognitive deficits in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder

Filippo Savoldi, Maria A. Rocca, Paola Valsasina, Gianna C. Riccitelli, Sarlota Mesaros, Jelena Drulovic, Marta Radaelli, Massimo Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) correlates of cognitive deficits have not been thoroughly studied in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSDs). Objective: To investigate resting state (RS) functional connectivity (FC) abnormalities within the main cognitive networks in NMOSD patients and their correlation with cognitive performance. Methods: We acquired RS fMRI from 25 NMOSD patients and 30 healthy controls (HC). Patients underwent an extensive neuropsychological evaluation. Between-group RS FC comparisons and correlations with cognitive performance were assessed on the main cognitive RS networks identified by independent component analysis. Results: NMOSD patients showed higher RS FC versus HC in the precuneus of the default mode network (DMN) and right working memory network (WMN), as well as in several frontoparietal regions of the salience network (SN) and bilateral WMNs. Reduced frontal RS FC in NMOSD versus HC was detected in the left WMN. Increased RS FC in the DMN and right WMN was correlated with better cognitive performance, while decreased RS FC in the left WMN was associated with worse cognitive performance. Conclusion: Cognitive-network reorganization occurs in NMOSD. Clinico-imaging correlations suggest an adaptive role of increased RS FC. Conversely, reduced RS FC seems to be a maladaptive mechanism associated with a worse cognitive performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-805
Number of pages11
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


  • cognition
  • Devic’s syndrome
  • functional connectivity
  • MRI
  • plasticity
  • resting state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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