Stroke of the right MCA is common. Such strokes often have consequences for emotional experience, but these can be subtle. In such cases diagnosis is difficult because emotional awareness (limiting reporting of emotional changes) may be affected. The present study sought to clarify the mechanisms of altered emotion experience after right MCA stroke. It was predicted that after right MCA stroke the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a brain region concerned with emotional awareness, would show reduced neural activity. Brain activity during presentation of emotional stimuli was measured in 6 patients with stable stroke, and in 12 age- and sex-matched nonlesion comparisons using positron emission tomography and the [(15)O]H(2)O autoradiographic method. MCA stroke was associated with weaker pleasant experience and decreased activity ipsilaterally in the ACC. Other regions involved in emotional processing including thalamus, dorsal and medial prefrontal cortex showed reduced activity ipsilaterally. Dorsal and medial prefrontal cortex, association visual cortex and cerebellum showed reduced activity contralaterally. Experience from unpleasant stimuli was unaltered and was associated with decreased activity only in the left midbrain. Right MCA stroke may reduce experience of pleasant emotions by altering brain activity in limbic and paralimbic regions distant from the area of direct damage, in addition to changes due to direct tissue damage to insula and basal ganglia. The knowledge acquired in this study begins to explain the mechanisms underlying emotional changes following right MCA stroke. Recognizing these changes may improve diagnoses, management and rehabilitation of right MCA stroke victims.
Copyright © 2011 National Stroke Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.