East Hanover, NJ - January 18, 2018 - Ekaterina Dobryakova, PhD, research scientist in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research at Kessler Foundation, received an award from the New Jersey Health Foundation to study how performance feedback influences cognitive fatigue levels in individuals with TBI. The goal is to see whether a behavioral intervention that is based on providing performance feedback can effectively reduce levels of cognitive fatigue, a finding that would have implications for individuals with other types of neurological conditions who are affected by disabling fatigue.
The grant of $34,687 funds a one-year pilot study comparing the effects of two feedback conditions - feedback and no feedback - in individuals who report high and low levels of fatigue. While performing a word-learning task participants will receive feedback on whether or not they correctly learned the words, or receive no feedback. "We will assess fatigue for both conditions," explained Dr. Dobryakova. "We expect that individuals with high fatigue will report less fatigue during the feedback condition than during the no feedback condition. "
Feedback has been shown to affect the activity of the fronto-striatal network. Activity of this brain network increases during positive feedback, and is accompanied by the release of dopamine, a brain chemical involved in transferring information between brain areas. "Medication that increases dopamine levels in the brain has been shown to alleviate fatigue in clinical populations, including individuals with TBI," said Dr. Dobryakova. "Neuroimaging studies of the fronto-striatal network will help us determine whether dopamine release can be increased without medication. If this nonpharmacologic approach can effectively reduce fatigue in the TBI population, this will have implications for the treatment of fatigue in other populations," she noted. "Alleviating debilitating fatigue is an important step toward improving function and increasing quality of life for affected individuals."
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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 employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
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