Public Release:  Kessler Foundation MS researchers find task meaningfulness influences learning and memory

Self-generation may be influenced by variables such as task meaningfulness during learning and memory

Kessler Foundation

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IMAGE: Yael Goverover, Ph.D., OT, is a Visiting Scientist at Kessler Foundation. She is an associate professor at New York University. Dr. Goverover is a recipient of the National Institute on... view more

Credit: Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ. February 21, 2014. Kessler Foundation researchers have found that among persons with multiple sclerosis, self-generation may be influenced by variables such as task meaningfulness during learning and memory. They also found that type of task (functional versus laboratory) had a significant effect on memory.

This is the first controlled investigation of therapeutic and patient-specific factors that supports the inclusion of self-generation in cognitive rehabilitation. The study was published in the January issue of Neuropsychological Rehabilitation: An International Journal. (Yael Goverover, Nancy D. Chiaravalloti & John DeLuca: Task meaningfulness and degree of cognitive impairment: Do they affect self-generated learning in persons with multiple sclerosis? http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09602011.2013.868815). Yael Goverover, PhD, OT, is a Visiting Scientist at Kessler Foundation. She is an associate professor at New York University. Dr. Goverover is a recipient of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Fellowship award (Mary Switzer Award).

The researchers studied two groups: 35 persons with MS who had moderate to severe learning and memory impairments (SEVERE-MS), and 35 persons with little to no impairment (MILD-MS). All the participants learned two types of tasks (functional everyday tasks and laboratory tasks), each in two learning conditions (Provided and Generated). Participants were required to recall the information immediately, 30 minutes, and 1 week following initial learning.

Significantly more words were recalled from the generated condition, a finding that was consistent for both SEVERE-MS and MILD-MS. Also, self-generated learning was more effective for recall of functional vs laboratory tasks, a finding consistent in both groups.

These results have implications for the design of effective strategies for cognitive rehabilitation in MS, according to Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience research at Kessler Foundation. "A self-generation strategy can significantly improve learning and memory on tasks that are important for persons in their everyday lives," said Dr. Chiaravalloti, "which is an important objective of cognitive rehabilitation. This study brings us closer to developing effective treatment for memory and learning impairments in individuals with MS, and consequently improving their quality of life."

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Supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society [grant number RG 3935A2/2

About MS Research at Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society, NJ Commission of Brain Injury Research, Consortium of MS Centers, and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, emotional processing, employment and cognitive fatigue. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, iPADs, and virtual reality. Among recent findings are the benefits of cognitive reserve and aerobic exercise; correlation between cognitive performance and outdoor temperatures; efficacy of short-term cognitive rehabilitation using modified story technique; factors related to risk for unemployment, and the correlation between memory improvement and cerebral activation on fMRI. Foundation research scientists have faculty appointments at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The opening of the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation in 2013 has greatly expanded the Foundation's capability for neuroscience research in MS and other neurological conditions.

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. facebook.com/KesslerFoundation

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Carolann Murphy, PA; 973.324.8382; CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

Lauren Scrivo, 973.324.8384/973.768.6583 (cell); LScrivo@KesslerFoundation.org

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