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Altered Effective Connectivity during a Processing Speed Task in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

  • E. Dobryakova (a1) (a2), S.L. Costa (a2) (a3), G.R. Wylie (a2) (a3) (a4), J. DeLuca (a1) (a2) and H.M. Genova (a2) (a3)...


Objectives: Processing speed impairment is the most prevalent cognitive deficit in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the neural mechanisms associated with processing speed remain under debate. The current investigation provides a dynamic representation of the functioning of the brain network involved in processing speed by examining effective connectivity pattern during a processing speed task in healthy adults and in MS individuals with and without processing speed impairment. Methods: Group assignment (processing speed impaired vs. intact) was based on participants’ performance on the Symbol Digit Modalities test (Parmenter, Testa, Schretlen, Weinstock-Guttman, & Benedict, 2010). First, brain regions involved in the processing speed task were determined in healthy participants. Time series from these functional regions of interest of each group of participants were then subjected to the effective connectivity analysis (Independent Multiple-Sample Greedy Equivalence Search and Linear, Non-Gaussian Orientation, Fixed Structure algorithms) that showed causal influences of one region on another during task performance. Results: The connectivity pattern of the processing speed impaired group was significantly different from the connectivity pattern of the processing speed intact group and of the healthy control group. Differences in the strength of common connections were also observed. Conclusions: Effective connectivity results reveal that MS individuals with processing speed impairment not only have connections that differ from healthy participants and MS individuals without processing speed impairment, but also have increased strengths of connections. (JINS, 2016, 22, 216–224)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Helen M. Genova, Kessler Foundation Research Center, 300 Executive Drive, West Orange, NJ 07052. E-mail:


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