Dr. Helen Genova Awarded Grant to Study Emotional Processing Intervention in MS
National Multiple Sclerosis Society funds Kessler Foundation study to apply treatment successful in other populations to individuals with MS
East Hanover, NJ – January 10, 2018 – Helen Genova, PhD, Assistant Director of the Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research Laboratory at Kessler Foundation, has been awarded a $44,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The grant funds her research on emotional processing deficits in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune degenerative disease of the central nervous system associated with significant behavioral and emotional sequelae.
Recent research suggests that a significant number of individuals with MS have difficulty with emotional processing, specifically, in recognizing the emotions of others through facial expressions. These impairments often lead to issues in social functioning and interpersonal relationships. Dr. Genova will examine the effects of an intervention consisting of a computerized program aimed at improving facial affect recognition in individuals with MS, and interactive training that uses examples of the individual’s own emotional experiences.
“We know that the proposed intervention has been effective in autism, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury and in our own pilot data in people with MS,” remarked Dr. Genova. “We predict that following the treatment, neuroimaging will show increased activation in regions of the brain critical for facial affect recognition, correlating with the effects of the intervention. These data will enable us to document the beneficial effect of this intervention for this population and others.”
This is the first study to apply a treatment that has been shown to be successful in other populations to individuals with MS. This project may provide important evidence showing that this strategy can be effective for improving social functioning in the community, workplace, and at home, and enhance quality of life for people with MS.
About Helen Genova
Helen M. Genova, PhD, is the Assistant Director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation. Dr. Genova’s research interests have included examining cognitive dysfunction in various clinical and neurological populations including chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis (MS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). She is currently using functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging to examine cognitive impairments in MS and TBI, and how these impairments relate to neuronal pathology. Dr. Genova’s research is funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, and the Consortium of MS Centers.
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. Learn more by visiting www.KesslerFoundation.org.
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Laura Viglione, MS; 973-323-3675; LViglione@KesslerFoundation.org