Thalamic and hippocampal volume associated with memory functions in multiple sclerosis

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Objectives:Although multiple sclerosis (MS) has long been considered to primarily affect white matter, it is now recognized that cognitive deficits in MS are also related to neocortical, thalamic and hippocampal damage. However, the association between damage to these structures and memory deficits in MS is unclear. This study examines whether MS patients with cognitive impairment have a reduction of hippocampal and/or thalamic volumes compared to cognitively intact patients, and whether these volume reductions correlate with various aspects of memory function.Methodology:Volumetric MRI measures of thalamus and hippocampus of forty-one patients with MS were performed. The patients were divided in two groups depending on the presence or absence of cognitive impairment, based on their neuropsychological tests scores.Results:Right hippocampal volume was found to be associated with learning, and the left thalamic volume was found to predict performance in verbal memory. Cognitively impaired patients had a tendency to have a reduced left thalamic volume compared to cognitively intact patients.Conclusions:This study does not support a direct relationship between hippocampal atrophy and verbal memory. These results add to the growing evidence of the involvement of thalamus in cognitive impairment in MS and its association with verbal memory deficits.HIGHLIGHTSCognitive impairment in MS is associated with a left thalamic volume reduction.Left thalamic volume is associated with verbal memory functioning in MS.Right hippocampal volume predicts learning performance.The results do not show a direct association between verbal memory and hippocampal volume in MS.This study did not show a relationship between visuospatial memory and either thalamic or hippocampal volumes in MS.

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