A $41,000 fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aims to advance research into how changes in brain connectivity are related to the cognitive deficits seen in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship was granted to Mark Zuppichini, a third-year PhD student in the cognition and neuroscience program in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.
The two-year grant will allow Zuppichini mentored research training, supporting his dissertation work and advancing his path to becoming an independent researcher in the field of cognitive neuroscience.
“We need to better understand the mechanisms by which MS impairs cognitive function to be able to help people,” Zuppichini said in a university press release.
Zuppichini took an interest in memory research early in his career. While finishing his master’s at Montclair State University in New Jersey, he began studying working memory in healthy subjects and in people with MS.
Later, as part of his doctoral research, he started studying how changes in the connection and communication between nerve cells explained the cognitive weaknesses that burden MS patients.
While MS is mostly known for its physical symptoms, more than half of all patients develop problems with cognition, which can include trouble learning and processing information, memory problems, difficulty in finding the right words, and attention deficits.
Zuppichini’s goal is to better understand the mechanisms underlying cognitive decline in patients, and to underpin potential targets for rehabilitation.
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