Valentina Tomassini1,2, Rose Gelineau-Kattner1,3, Mark Jenkinson1, Jacqueline Palace1, Carlo Pozzilli2, Heidi Johansen-Berg1, Paul M. Matthews1,4
1FMRIB Centre, Dept of Clinical Neurology, The University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom; 2Dept of Neurological Sciences, "La Sapienza" University, Rome, Italy; 3Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, United States; 4GSK Clinical Imaging Centre, GlaxoSmithKline, London, United Kingdom
The behavioural evidence for altered motor skill learning in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) suggests that MS pathology may impair mechanisms of adaptive plasticity required for learning. The striatum is functionally relevant for both higher motor control and learning. The evidence for localized MS-related pathology within the striatum and disease-related disruption of its neocortical connections suggests a role of the striatum in impairing motor learning in MS. Here we tested whether impaired learning performance in MS was associated with localized changes in the striatal structural architecture and assessed the functional consequences of these behaviourally relevant structural changes.