Working Memory and Cognitive Reserve Linked in MS Kessler Foundation Study
Any intervention that could help multiple sclerosis patients preserve long-term memory would likely be well-received. As suggested by a recent study from the Kessler Foundation, “Working Memory Mediates the Relationship Between Intellectual Enrichment and Long-term Memory in Multiple Sclerosis: An Exploratory Analysis of Cognitive Reserve,” one possibility could be intellectual enrichment exercises for stimulating a patient’s working memory.
Two members of the Foundation, Joshua Sandry, PhD, and James Sumowski, PhD, conducted a study with 70 multiple sclerosis patients. The two researchers used a multitude of assessment scales to determine working memory capacity, intellectual enrichment, and verbal long-term memory decline. The goal was to determine the presence of relationships among studied factors. Results were published ahead of print in Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.
“We found that working memory capacity explained the relationship between intellectual enrichment and long-term memory in this population,” said Dr. Sandry in a press release from the company. “This suggests that interventions targeted at working memory in people with multiple sclerosis may help build cognitive reserve to protect against decline in long-term memory.”
The basis for the study was the fact that some multiple sclerosis patients experience decreased long-term memory, while others do not. Theories exist in regards to the protective effects of intellectual enrichment by preventing disease-related cognitive decline. While the exact mechanism that provides the benefit of greater cognitive reserve due to exercises in working memory capacity was not investigated in the study, a better understanding of the role of working memory capacity in cognitive reserve has been attained.