Thalamic diffusion differences related to cognitive function in white matter lesions

Marina Fernández-Andújar, Juan José Soriano-Raya, Júlia Miralbell, Elena López-Cancio, Cynthia Cáceres, Núria Bargalló, Maite Barrios, Juan Francisco Arenillas, Pere Toran, Maite Alzamora, Imma Clemente, Antoni Dávalos, Maria Mataró

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Cerebral white matter lesions (WMLs) are related to cognitive deficits, probably due to a disruption of frontal-subcortical circuits. We explored thalamic diffusion differences related to white matter lesions (WMLs) and their association with cognitive function in middle-aged individuals. Ninety-six participants from the Barcelona-AsIA Neuropsychology Study were included. Participants were classified into groups based on low grade and high grade of periventricular hyperintensities (PVHs) and deep white matter hyperintensities (DWMHs). Tract-Based Spatial Statistics was used to study thalamic diffusion differences between groups. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values in significant areas were calculated for each subject and correlated with cognitive performance. Participants with high-grade PVHs and DWMHs showed lower FA thalamic values compared to those with low-grade PVHs and DWMHs, respectively. Decreased FA thalamic values in high-grade DWMHs, but not high-grade PVH, were related to lower levels of performance in psychomotor speed, verbal fluency, and visuospatial skills. Thalamic diffusion differences are related to lower cognitive function only in participants with high-grade DWMHs. These results support the hypothesis that fronto-subcortical disruption is associated with cognitive function only in DWMHs. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1110
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • Neuropsychology
  • Psychomotor speed
  • Thalamus diffusivity
  • Verbal fluency
  • Visuospatial skills
  • White matter lesions

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