Cortical and diencephalic lesions in Korsakoff's syndrome: a clinical and CT scan study

Psychol Med. 1990 Feb;20(1):63-75. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700013234.


Twenty-five male alcoholic Korsakoff patients were compared with age and sex-matched non-Korsakoff chronic alcoholics and healthy volunteers on clinical and CT brain scan parameters. The scans were assessed by planimetry, visual grading procedures and computerized analysis. Reliable measures of third ventricular size were developed. The Korsakoff patients had wider third ventricles, larger lateral ventricles and wider interhemispheric fissures than the comparison groups; but sulcal and Sylvian fissure widths were equivalent in Korsakoff and non-Korsakoff alcoholics. The results suggest that, in addition to their well-established diencephalic lesions, many Korsakoff patients have sustained widespread cerebral damage. Shrinkage in the frontal brain regions appears to be especially pronounced. The implications for a dual aetiology of alcoholic Korsakoff's syndrome involving thiamine deficiency and features associated with alcoholism, probably direct alcohol neurotoxicity, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / psychology
  • Alcoholism / diagnostic imaging
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Atrophy
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Ventriculography
  • Diencephalon / diagnostic imaging*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*