West Orange, NJ. October 3, 2013. A major grant totaling $761,222 from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Clinical Science Research and Development, involves a collaboration between Kessler Foundation and the VA New Jersey Health Care System. Glenn Wylie, DPhil is principal investigator for the study, "Examination of Cognitive Fatigue in Gulf War Illness using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging." Dr. Wylie is a research scientist at the War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) at VA New Jersey Health Care System's East Orange Campus and associate director of Neuroscience & Neuropsychology Research and the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation.
Co-investigators are John DeLuca, PhD, VP of Research & Training at Kessler Foundation, Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, the Foundation's director of Traumatic Brain Injury Research and Neuroscience & Neuropsychology Research, and Dane Cook, PhD, Health Science Research Specialist, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI, and associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Study participants will be recruited by the WRIISC in East Orange, NJ.
Cognitive fatigue that is worsened by the demands of daily life affects 25% of veterans with Gulf War illness. Little is known about this common symptom that affects many veterans. "This study is an important first step toward establishing the set of brain regions that are critical to fatigue," noted Dr. Wylie. "It is no exaggeration to say that this would represent a paradigm shift in research on fatigue." Dr. Chiaravalloti commented: "Once this set of areas is determined, the contribution of each individual area can be examined. Treatments can then be devised that act on these areas, and the effectiveness of these treatments can be assessed."
Aims of the current study are to establish functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as an objective measure of cognitive fatigue and to examine the relationship between fMRI and valid self-report measures of fatigue. Diffusion tensor imaging will be used to determine whether white matter tract integrity differs between veterans with Gulf War illness and healthy veteran controls, and whether these differences are related to functional brain imaging and self-reported fatigue outcomes. The neuroimaging studies will be conducted at the new Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation.
During fMRI, the researchers will induce cognitive fatigue with tasks that require sustained mental effort and examine the associated functional changes in the brain. The researchers hypothesize that there will be disruption of the white matter tracts that connect the key areas of the brain that are implicated in fatigue.
"Kessler Foundation looks forward to joining its expertise in cognitive rehabilitation and neuroimaging with the VA's expertise in veterans' health care. Our collaboration will yield better ways to treat veterans with Gulf War illness," said Dr. DeLuca.
Drs. Chiaravalloti, DeLuca, and Wylie are on the faculty of the department of physical medicine & rehabilitation at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
Recent publication: Dobryakova E, Deluca J, Genova HM, Wylie GR. Neural correlates of cognitive fatigue: cortico-striatal circuitry and effort-reward imbalance. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2013 Sep;19(8):849-53.
About Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, Department of Defense/CDMRP, National MS Society, Consortium of MS Centers, , and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, scientists in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation have made important contributions to knowledge of cognitive decline in MS and TBI. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed. Research tools include innovative applications of fMRI and virtual reality. Among recent findings are the benefits of cognitive reserve; correlation between cognitive performance and outdoor temperatures; the efficacy of short-term cognitive rehabilitation using modified story technique; factors associated with cognitive fatigue, and the correlation between memory improvement and cerebral activation on fMRI.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.
Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org
Lauren Scrivo, 973.324.8384, 973.768.6583 - c, LScrivo@KesslerFoundation.org
For more information about the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center and Gulf War Illness, see http://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov.
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