Microstructural MRI basis of the cognitive functions in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 2

G. Olivito, M. Lupo, C. Iacobacci, S. Clausi, S. Romano, M. Masciullo, M. Molinari, M. Cercignani, M. Bozzali, M. Leggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease involving the cerebellum. The particular atrophy pattern results in some typical clinical features mainly including motor deficits. In addition, the presence of cognitive impairments, involving language, visuospatial and executive functions, has been also shown in SCA2 patients and it is now widely accepted as a feature of the disease. The aim of the study is to investigate the microstructural patterns and the anatomo-functional substrate that could account for the cognitive symptomatology observed in SCA2 patients. In the present study, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) based-tractography was performed to map the main cerebellar white matter (WM) bundles, such as Middle and Superior Cerebellar Peduncles, connecting cerebellum with higher order cerebral regions. Damage-related diffusivity measures were used to determine the pattern of pathological changes of cerebellar WM microstructure in patients affected by SCA2 and correlated with the patients’ cognitive scores. Our results provide the first evidence that WM diffusivity is altered in the presence of the cerebellar cortical degeneration associated with SCA2 thus resulting in a cerebello-cerebral dysregulation that may account for the specificity of cognitive symptomatology observed in patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 16 2017


  • cerebellar peduncles
  • cerebellum
  • cognition
  • DTI
  • tractography
  • white matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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