A structural MRI study of motor conversion disorder: evidence of reduction in thalamic volume

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2014 Feb;85(2):227-9. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2013-305012. Epub 2013 Sep 13.


Objective: To investigate potential abnormalities in subcortical brain structures in conversion disorder (CD) compared with controls using a region of interest (ROI) approach.

Methods: Fourteen patients with motor CD were compared with 31 healthy controls using high-resolution MRI scans with an ROI approach focusing on the basal ganglia, thalamus and amygdala. Brain volumes were measured using Freesurfer, a validated segmentation algorithm.

Results: Significantly smaller left thalamic volumes were found in patients compared with controls when corrected for intracranial volume. These reductions did not vary with handedness, laterality, duration or severity of symptoms.

Conclusions: These differences may reflect a primary disease process in this area or be secondary effects of the disorder, for example, resulting from limb disuse. Larger, longitudinal structural imaging studies will be required to confirm the findings and explore whether they are primary or secondary to CD.


Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Conversion Disorder / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Thalamus / pathology*