Purpose: To investigate thalamic connectivity changes after use of a video game-based cognitive rehabilitation program, as thalamic damage and alterations in thalamocortical functional connectivity (FC) are important factors in cognitive dysfunction in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Materials and Methods: This prospective study was approved by the local ethical committee. Twenty-four patients with MS and cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to either an intervention or a wait-list group. Patients were evaluated with cognitive tests and 3-T resting-state functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at baseline and after an 8-week period. In addition, 11 healthy subjects underwent baseline resting-state functional MR imaging. Patients in the intervention group performed the video game-based cognitive rehabilitation program, while those in the waitlist group served as control subjects. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to test efficacy of the intervention. The thalamic resting-state network was identified with a seed-based method; both first-level and high-level analyses were performed by using software tools. Results: Patients showed lower baseline FC compared with healthy subjects. A significant improvement was seen in results of the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test and the Stroop Test after 8 weeks of cognitive rehabilitation (F = 6.616, [P = .018] and F = 5.325 [P = .030], respectively). At follow-up, the intervention group had an increased FC in the cingulum, precuneus, and bilateral parietal cortex and a lower FC in the cerebellum and in left prefrontal cortex compared with the wait-list group (P , .05, family-wise error corrected); correlations were found between FC changes in these regions and cognitive improvement (P , .05, family-wise error corrected). Conclusion: The results of this study show the relevance of thalamic regulation of the brain networks involved in cognition and suggest that changes in thalamic resting-state network connectivity may represent a functional substrate for cognitive improvement associated with a video game-based cognitive rehabilitation program.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging