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Kessler Foundation awarded $750,000 grant from National MS Society for cognitive research

Dr. Chiaravalloti of Kessler Foundation will study effect of speed of processing training on cognitive performance in MS

Kessler Foundation


IMAGE: Dr. Chiaravalloti is director of Neuropsychology, Neuroscience and TBI Research at Kessler Foundation. She is an expert in cognitive rehabilitation research in multiple sclerosis, brain injury and other neurological conditions. view more

Credit: Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ. April 2, 2014. Kessler Foundation received a four-year $750,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to conduct a randomized controlled trial of speed of processing training to improve cognition in multiple sclerosis (MS). Nancy D. Chiaravalloti, PhD, the study's principal investigator, is Director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience and TBI Research at Kessler Foundation.

"Thanks to National MS Society donors, we are excited to be able to support this innovative clinical trial that addresses the adverse effects of MS on processing speed. Prolongation of processing speed can have a major impact on a person's employment and quality of life," said Nicholas G. LaRocca, PhD, Vice President of Health Care Delivery and Policy Research at the National MS Society.

"The impact extends beyond cognition to multiple aspects of everyday life, including work and social activities," concurred Dr. Chiaravalloti. "Despite the clear impact of processing speed problems on daily life, few studies have addressed improving processing speed in order to improve everyday functioning. We will examine the effectiveness of a well-established computerized processing speed treatment program, Speed of Processing Training (SPT), in persons with MS. This double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial will examine SPT's impact on both objective tests of speed and memory abilities and everyday functional activities. "

Participants with MS who have documented processing speed deficits will be randomly assigned to a treatment group or a non-treatment group. Both groups will undergo testing before and after treatment, as well as 6 months later. Testing will consist of: (1) traditional paper and pencil tests of thinking abilities, and (2) questionnaires examining the impact of the treatment on daily activities. This design will allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of SPT in an MS population on standardized tests of thinking ability and the impact of the treatment protocol on everyday life on tests involving daily tasks and questionnaires completed by the participant and a significant other.


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 Multiple Sclerosis Society, Consortium of MS Centers, the Patterson Trust, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundation and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience and TBI 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. A new grant from the National MS Society funds the MS Collaborative Network of New Jersey (MSCNNJ), the first such network devoted to rehabilitation research. 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. Foundation research scientists have faculty appointments at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School.

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

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