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National MS Society funds Kessler Foundation pilot study of social interaction in MS

Photo of Dr. Ekaterina Dobryakova

MS researchers conduct first study of outcome processing during social interactions in individuals with multiple sclerosis

East Hanover, NJ, February 25, 2019. Ekaterina Dobryakova, PhD, and Pei-Pei Liu, PhD, were awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society to conduct a novel study of outcome processing in individuals with MS. This pilot study will be conducted at Kessler Foundation, where Dr. Dobryakova is a research scientist in the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research. Dr. Liu, a former post-doctoral fellow at the Foundation, will consult on this project.

Individuals with MS often show impairments in learning and experience difficulties during social interactions. The ability to learn from the outcomes of one’s actions, referred to as outcome processing, plays a critical role in choosing the optimal action. Poor outcome processing can adversely impact an individual’s choices made in social environments and during social interactions, including rehabilitation settings. Despite the critical implications for individuals with these deficits, this is the first study to examine outcome processing during social interactions in individuals with MS.

Understanding how MS affects outcome processing is an important step toward maximizing their competence in social interactions at home, at work or school, and in the community.  “To examine outcome processing in this population, we will look at how individuals process the outcomes of their actions during cooperative interactions, in which they choose whether or not to cooperate with others,” explained Dr. Dobryakova. “In this study, reciprocation is considered a positive outcome during cooperative interactions. We will focus on how individuals react when reciprocation is immediate and when reciprocation is delayed. We anticipate that individuals with MS will understand delayed reciprocation better than immediate reciprocation.” 

Funded by National MS Society grant# PP-1803-30553

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 the Center for 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. Learn more by visiting

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