Functional MRI in investigating cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


There is increasing evidence that the severity of the clinical manifestations of multiple sclerosis (MS) does not simply result from the extent of tissue destruction, but it rather represents a complex balance between tissue damage, tissue repair, and cortical reorganization. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provides information about the plasticity of the human brain. Therefore, it has the potential to provide important pieces of information about brain reorganization following MS-related structural damage. When investigating cognitive systems, fMRI changes have been described in virtually all patients with MS and different clinical phenotypes. These functional changes have been related to the extent of brain damage within and outside T2-visible lesions as well as to the involvement of specific central nervous system structures. It has also been suggested that a maladaptive recruitment of specific brain regions might be associated with the appearance of clinical symptoms in MS, such as fatigue and cognitive impairment. fMRI studies from clinically (and cognitively) impaired MS patients may be influenced by different task performances between patients and controls. As a consequence, new strategies have been introduced to assess the role, if any, of brain reorganization in severely impaired patients, including the analysis of resting-state networks. The enhancement of any beneficial effects of this brain adaptive plasticity should be considered as a potential target of therapy for MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016


  • adaptation
  • cognitive impairment
  • functional mri
  • maladaptation
  • multiple sclerosis
  • plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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