Pre-existing or enhanced cognitive abilities influence symptom onset and severity in neurodegenerative diseases, which improve an individual's ability to deal with neurodegeneration. This process is named cognitive reserve (CR), and it has acquired high visibility in the field of neurodegeneration. However, the investigation of CR has been neglected in the context of cerebellar neurodegenerative disorders. The present study assessed CR and its impact on cognitive abilities in spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2), which is a rare cerebellar neurodegenerative disease. We investigated the existence of CR networks in terms of compensatory mechanisms and neural reserve driven by increased cerebello-cerebral functional connectivity. The CR of 12 SCA2 patients was assessed using the Cognitive Reserve Index Questionnaire (CRIq), which was developed for appraising life-span CR. Patients underwent several neuropsychological tests to evaluate cognitive functioning and a functional MRI examination. Network based statistics analysis was used to assess functional brain networks. The results revealed significant correlations of CRIq measures with cognitive domains and patterns of increased connectivity in specific cerebellar and cerebral regions, which likely indicated CR networks. This study showed that CR may influence disease-related cognitive deficits, and it was related to the effective use of specific cerebello-cerebral networks that reflect a CR biomarker.
The rising role of cognitive reserve and associated compensatory brain networks in spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 / Siciliano, Libera; Olivito, Giusy; Urbini, Nicole; Silveri, Maria Caterina; Leggio, Maria. - In: JOURNAL OF NEUROLOGY. - ISSN 1432-1459. - 10:270(2023), pp. 5071-5084. [10.1007/s00415-023-11855-3]