Poster F79, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Cognitive and sensorimotor aspects of handwriting in multiple sclerosis: an fMRI study
Laura Bonzano1, Ambra Bisio1, Ludovico Pedullà1,2, Giampaolo Brichetto2, Marco Bove1; 1University of Genoa, Italy, 2Italian Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Genoa, Italy
Handwriting requires complex sensorimotor and cognitive functions and can be affected in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) causing a sense of frustration and the inability to recognize themselves in the new calligraphy. At present there is not a conventional approach to assess handwriting movements in MS. Aim of this work was to adopt a new methodology for the kinematic analysis of handwriting movements and the investigation of their neural correlates in PwMS. Eighteen PwMS and 18 healthy controls (HC) underwent an fMRI examination, based on a boxcar design paradigm with 30 s of handwriting task alternating with 30 s of rest (three times each). During the handwriting task the subjects had to write the sentence “Il sole scalda” at their spontaneous velocity on an MRI-compatible tablet recording the traces, with a visual feedback of the written traces via a projection mirror system. The traces were analyzed with an ad hoc software tool and showed increased movement duration and spatial variability in PwMS compared to HC. The relationships between the kinematic parameters and the cognitive and motor clinical scores revealed that both motor abilities and cognitive status influenced handwriting skills. The “writing centers” (frontal and parietal areas, cerebellum) were found to be active during handwriting in both groups, while the statistical contrast between groups showed decreased activation of the caudate nucleus, thalamus and insula in the PwMS group. Handwriting is altered in PwMS at both kinematic and neural levels, particularly involving brain structures linked to sensorimotor and reward-related processes.
Topic Area: METHODS: Neuroimaging