Kessler researchers show Speed of Processing Training effective in multiple sclerosis

Pilot study by MS research team finds improvements in neuropsychological tests and performance of everyday life activities

East Hanover, NJ. September 18, 2018. A recent article by Kessler Foundation researchers underscores the importance of processing speed in overall cognitive function in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their performance of everyday life activities. The article, "A pilot study examining speed of processing training (SPT) to improve processing speed in persons with multiple sclerosis", was published August 27, 2018 in Frontiers in Neurology.

The authors are Nancy D. Chiaravalloti, PhD, Yael Goverover, PhD (visiting professor from NYU), Silvana L Costa, PhD, and John DeLuca, PhD, of Kessler Foundation. The article link is: https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2018.00685

The researchers tested Speed of Processing Training (SPT), in individuals with MS. SPT is a computerized treatment shown to result in persistent improvements in processing speed and everyday function in older adults. There were 21 participants in this randomized controlled trial, 12 in the treatment group and 9 in the control group. The treatment group underwent 10 computerized training sessions over 5 weeks; controls had no treatment. The treatment group showed significant gains on neuropsychological tests of processing speed, new learning and memory, and activities of daily life.

"These results indicate that processing speed is fundamental to higher order cognitive function in individuals with MS,” said Dr. Chiaravalloti, the Foundation’s director of Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, and Traumatic Brain Injury Research. “Looking at the impact of cognitive interventions on neuropsychological measures isn’t enough, however. The outcomes of our research studies need to include the effects of cognitive rehabilitation protocols on how people perform in their daily lives.”

“Developing a cognitive rehabilitation protocol for treating deficits in processing speed is a priority,” summarized Dr. Chiaravalloti. “Reaching that goal means improving the lives of individuals and easing the burdens of caregivers. This study is an important first step toward that goal.”

NCT01838824

This research was supported by National Multiple Sclerosis Society grant RG 4607-A.

About MS Research at Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, National MS Society, Consortium of MS Centers, the Patterson Trust, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundations, the International Progressive MS Alliance, and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS and developed new treatments. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, cognitive reserve, emotional processing, employment and cognitive fatigue. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, mobile devices, eye-tracking, EEG, and virtual reality. Neuroimaging studies are conducted at the research-dedicated Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation. Kessler researchers and clinicians have faculty appointments in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

For more information, or to interview an expert, contact: Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org.