Walk a Mile to Re-myel-inate
Dr. Jodie Gawryluk
University of Victoria
About the researcher
Undergraduate Student at the University of Victoria
MS is a chronic, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. Immune cells attack the myelin sheath, a fatty tissue that insulates nerve cells, hindering nerve impulse conduction. This alters brain signals and underlies many of the symptoms of MS which include physical, cognitive and psychological symptoms. This study uses neuroimaging technology, like MRI, to understand how these symptoms map onto different patterns of brain structure (like on the right) and activity.
Most MRI studies simply look at average brain activity, whereas this study looks at fluctuations in brain activity, which could be much more informative. This new technique has not yet been used to understand the symptoms present in MS. In particular, this study was interested in how variability in brain activity was related to symptoms of fatigue and whether a simple walking intervention could reduce these symptoms and brain activity patterns.
While this study was able to advance our basic scientific knowledge on the role of variability in brain activity in overall brain health, it left a few questions unanswered. To develop treatments for MS and other neurological disorders, neuroscientists need to further study and understand how the detailed measurements that we can take in the lab relate to other components of our lifestyle, such as walking activity. Being able to understand these links will help us support brain resilience in not just MS, but all sorts of disorders.