Social network structure is linked to language function and amygdala volume in patients with MS, according to a study published in Multiple Sclerosis. With prior research indicating that social connections impact mental and physical health, investigators tested whether social network structure is linked with cognition, mood, fatigue, and regional brain volumes in patients with MS. Among patients with relapsing-remitting MS, they administered a questionnaire quantifying individual-level social network structure (size, density, e ective size, and constraint), a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests, and MRI. Higher network density and constraint— indicators of stronger connections among network members—were associated with worse language functions, whereas larger network e ective size— a measure of non-redundant network members— was associated with better language functions. While no relationships were observed between network structure and depression or fatigue, larger network size was related to larger amygdala volume. “Longitudinal studies with larger samples are warranted to evaluate potential causal links between social network structure and MS-related cognitive impairment,” write the study authors.
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