Research Study - Cognitive Reserve in Multiple Sclerosis

Call for participants with and without MS, who are aged 18-60 years.

The purpose of this study is to better understand cognitive outcomes in MS. Up to 60% of people with MS experience cognitive difficulties, which can include difficulties with thinking quickly or remembering information. MS can lead to changes in the brain. However, brain changes alone cannot fully explain why some people with MS experience more cognitive difficulty than others. Some people with MS seem to be better able to compensate for brain changes. This may be in part due to cognitive reserve. 

Cognitive reserve describes an individual’s ability to adapt to brain changes. A person with a greater cognitive reserve may be able to withstand the consequences of brain changes for longer. Cognitive reserve cannot be measured directly. Instead, researchers use proxy measures, including a person’s educational and occupational achievements, and their engagement in a wide range of leisure activities (e.g., socialising, volunteering, exercising, reading). 

In this study, we aim to investigate the impact of cognitive reserve on cognitive outcomes in MS. We are particularly interested in understanding how common MS symptoms interact with cognitive reserve. Many people with MS experience ‘invisible symptoms’, such as fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Experiencing any of these symptoms may impact an individual’s ability to engage in enriching activities. Unfortunately, invisible symptoms are still often overlooked, both in clinical practice and in research. By participating in this research, you can help to address this. 

How to Get Involved

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Cognitive Reserve in MS research study will be conducted through the UCD School of Psychology. This study has been granted approval by the UCD Research Ethics Committee.
originally published November 2023