Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department/Program

Psychology

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Joshua Sandry

Committee Member

Sarah Lowe

Committee Member

Alan Pehrson

Subject(s)

Multiple sclerosis, Memory--Physiological aspects

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system characterized by widespread lesions and plaques that disrupt neural transmission. In addition to physical disability, cognitive impairment is experienced in about half of the MS population, which profoundly impacts vocational ability and quality of life. Amongst people with MS experiencing cognitive deficits, memory impairment is one of the most common symptoms. Assessing memory impairment in MS, a critical step in treatment, has been a difficult process. Traditional clinical batteries assessing memory impairment in MS may not adequately capture the multiple subprocesses of memory. Pattern separation, the ability to discriminate between similar yet distinct memories, is one aspect of memory that remains unexplored in the MS population. Previous research in animals and other memory-impaired populations links the underlying neuronal computational processes of pattern separation to the subsections of the hippocampus. Moreover, hippocampal atrophy is common in MS. Therefore, this study uses the Mnemonic Similarities Task, a behavioral measure of pattern separation, to investigate pattern separation performance in a sample of MS participants as well as its relationship to structural brain parameter of hippocampal atrophy and white matter microstructural integrity. Results revealed strong positive correlations whereby lower pattern separation performance was related to smaller hippocampal volumes. Microstructural analysis of white matter tracts revealed no differences between high and low MS pattern separation performers, although this may be due to sample size. Results have implications for clinical assessment and suggest a need for future research into how pattern separation ability is affected in MS patients.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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