Bilateral effects of unilateral cerebellar lesions as detected by voxel based morphometry and diffusion imaging

Giusy Olivito, Michael Dayan, Valentina Battistoni, Silvia Clausi, Mara Cercignani, Marco Molinari, Maria Leggio, Marco Bozzali

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Over the last decades, the importance of cerebellar processing for cortical functions has been acknowledged and consensus was reached on the strict functional and structural cor-tico-cerebellar interrelations. From an anatomical point of view strictly contralateral interconnections link the cerebellum to the cerebral cortex mainly through the middle and superior cerebellar peduncle. Diffusion MRI (dMRI) based tractography has already been applied to address cortico-cerebellar-cortical loops in healthy subjects and to detect diffusivity alteration patterns in patients with neurodegenerative pathologies of the cerebellum. In the present study we used dMRI-based tractography to determine the degree and pattern of pathological changes of cerebellar white matter microstructure in patients with focal cerebellar lesions. Diffusion imaging and high-resolution volumes were obtained in patients with left cerebellar lesions and in normal controls. Middle cerebellar peduncles and superior cerebellar peduncles were reconstructed by multi fiber diffusion tractography. From each tract, measures of microscopic damage were assessed, and despite the presence of unilateral lesions, bilateral diffusivity differences in white matter tracts were found comparing patients with normal controls. Consistently, bilateral alterations were also evidenced in specific brain regions linked to the cerebellum and involved in higher-level functions. This could be in line with the evidence that in the presence of unilateral cerebellar lesions, different cognitive functions can be affected and they are not strictly linked to the side of the cerebellar lesion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0180439
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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