© 2014 American Psychological Association. Objective: Ischemic stroke can lead to a continuum of cognitive sequelae, ranging from mild vascular cognitive impairment to vascular dementia. These cognitive deficits can be influenced by the disruption of cortico-subcortical circuits. We sought to explore remote thalamic microstructural abnormalities and their association with cognitive function after ischemic stroke. Method: Seventeen patients with right hemispheric ischemic stroke and 17 controls matched for age, sex, and years of education were included. All participants underwent neurological, neuropsychological, and diffusion tensor image examination. Patients were assessed 3 months poststroke. Voxel-wise analysis was used to study thalamic diffusion differences between groups. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) values in significant thalamic areas were calculated for each subject and correlated with cognitive performance. Results: Stroke patients showed lower FA values and higher MD values in specific areas of both the left and right thalamus compared with controls. In patients, decreased FA values were associated with lower verbal fluency performance in the right thalamus (R2 = 0.45,β=0.74) and the left thalamus (R2 = 0.57, β = 0.77) after adjusting for diabetes mellitus. Moreover, increased MD values were associated with lower verbal fluency performance in the right thalamus (R2 = 0.27, β = -0.54) after adjusting for diabetes mellitus. In controls, thalamic FA and MD values were not related to any cognitive function. Conclusion: Our findings support the hypothesis that ischemic stroke lesions are associated with remote thalamic diffusion abnormalities, and that these abnormalities can contribute to cognitive dysfunction 3 months after a cerebrovascular event.
- Diffusion tensor imaging
- Thalamus diffusivity