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Fabienne Collette - Université de Liège: Exploring cognitive fatigue in multiple sclerosis: a neuropsychological and brain imaging approach


2018 - Besides its frequent occurrence following a neurological injury, mental fatigue is a complaint that has been increasingly reported by the healthy population. Indeed, a growing body of evidences within healthy participants supports the idea that mental fatigue largely impacts on both performances and brain activity during a cognitive task. In this respect, a fundamental question arises: are the mechanisms leading to perceived fatigue the same across different populations? Fatigue, in both its physical and mental features, is one of the most frequent complaint expressed by patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The etiology and pathophysiology of MS mental fatigue are complex and remain misunderstood. Yet, many MS patients consider fatigue as the most disabling symptom of the disease, and its consequences on quality of life are undoubtedly severe. Therefore, by conducting three studies, this project aims at better characterizing MS mental fatigue. First, the specific conditions that most likely elicit mental fatigue in MS patients during cognitive tasks will be determined (study 1). Then, we will explore the specific consequences of MS mental fatigue on brain activity and how brain can implement compensatory processes to cope with fatigue and keep efficient cognitive performance (study 2). Finally, the influence of changes in brain structure (e.g. lesion load) on both cognitive functioning and fatigue will be studied (study 3). With this project, we hope to provide a detailed model of MS mental fatigue and its underlying mechanisms. This would provide a valuable insight to improve MS patients’ healthcare.

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