Dartmouth Multiple Sclerosis Neuroimaging Study

Recent advances in neuroimaging have improved diagnosis and monitoring of multiple sclerosis (MS). The Dartmouth MS Neuroimaging Study is led by Dr. Heather Wishart, and involves colleagues from the Brain Imaging Lab, MS Center at Dartmouth, Radiology Department, Ophthalmology Section, Computer Science, and others. The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and National MS Society. The study is a controlled, cross-sectional and longitudinal neuropsychological, structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and functional MRI (fMRI) study of cognition and motor function in MS. The overall goal of the proposed study is to examine mechanisms that underlie cognitive and motor deficits in MS, and mechanisms by which the brain compensates for the disease. Ultimately, we hope to refine new neuroimaging tools for diagnosis, disease monitoring and treatment monitoring in MS.

How do I get involved?
Many of the participants to date have learned of the study through the MS Center at Dartmouth, but we also welcome inquiries and referrals from all sources. Participants must be right-handed, between the ages of 25 and 60, and have no medical, neurological or psychiatric conditions other than MS.

What does participation in this study entail?
Participants undergo a neuropsychological evaluation, including measures of memory, attention, executive function, language, spatial ability, general intellectual functioning and psychomotor speed. Also included are self-report inventories, completed by participants and by a family member or friend who knows them well. Participants undergo structural brain MRI, which is read by a neuroradiologist blinded to clinical status, to rule out unexpected pathology. While in the scanner, participants also perform functional MRI activation tasks probing cognitive and motor systems of the brain. In some cases, the tests and MRI scans are repeated one year later to assess for changes over time. We also bank DNA from consenting participants to examine the role of key genes in MRI parameters and symptomatic expression of the disease. All aspects of the study are explained to participants in advance as part of our informed consent process. The informed consent process continues after participants start the study as well; participants can ask questions at any time and all participation in any aspect of the study is voluntary.

For more information about the study or if you would like to participate, contact:
Susan Cronenwett, Study Coordinator
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
(603) 650-8706
susan.cronenwett@dartmouth.edu