Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative, inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, resulting in physical and cognitive disturbances. The goal of the current study was to examine the association between network integrity and composite measures of cognition and disease severity in individuals with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), relative to healthy controls. All participants underwent a neuropsychological and neuroimaging session, where resting-state data was collected. Independent component analysis and dual regression were employed to examine network integrity in individuals with MS, relative to healthy controls. The MS sample exhibited less connectivity in the motor and visual networks, relative to healthy controls, after controlling for group differences in gray matter volume. However, no alterations were observed in the frontoparietal, executive control, or default-mode networks, despite previous evidence of altered neuronal patterns during tasks of exogenous processing. Whole-brain, voxel-wise regression analyses with disease severity and processing speed composites were also performed to elucidate the brain-behavior relationship with neuronal network integrity. Individuals with higher levels of disease severity demonstrated reduced intra-network connectivity of the motor network, and the executive control network, while higher disease burden was associated with greater inter-network connectivity between the medial visual network and areas involved in visuomotor learning. Our findings underscore the importance of examining resting-state oscillations in this population, both as a biomarker of disease progression and a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
Keywords: Cognition; Disease severity; Functional connectivity; Multiple sclerosis; Processing speed; Resting-state.
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