Cognitive functions in patients with MR-defined chronic focal cerebellar lesions

Author(s): Richter S, Gerwig M, Aslan B, Wilhelm H, Schoch B, et al.


The aim of the present study was to examine cognitive functions in a group of chronic patients with focal cerebellar lesions. Both effects of localization (anterior vs. posterior lobe) and side (left vs. right cerebellar hemisphere) were of interest. Fourteen patients with infarctions within the territory of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) and seven patients with infarctions within the territory of the superior cerebellar artery (SCA) participated. The affected lobules and nuclei were assessed based on 3D MR imaging. The right cerebellar hemisphere was affected in eight PICA and two SCA patients, the left hemisphere in six PICA and four SCA patients. One SCA patient revealed a bilateral lesion. In order to study possible lateralization of functions, subjects performed a language task as well as standard neglect and extinction tests. Moreover, two tests of executive functions were applied. There were no significant group differences apart from a verbal fluency task, in which all cerebellar patients - but especially those with right-sided lesions - were impaired. Voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) revealed that a lesion of the right hemispheric lobule Crus II was associated with impaired performance in the verbal fluency task. In sum, the results showed preserved cognitive abilities in chronic cerebellar patients apart from impairments of verbal fluency in patients with right-cerebellar lesions. The latter findings are in line with the assumption that the right posterolateral cerebellar hemisphere supports functions associated with verbal fluency.

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