Objective: Structural reorganization following cerebellar infarcts is not yet known. This study aimed to demonstrate structural volumetric changes over time in the cortical vestibular and multisensory areas (i.e., brain plasticity) after acute cerebellar infarcts with vestibular and ocular motor symptoms. Additionally, we evaluated whether structural reorganization in the patients topographically correlates with cerebello-cortical connectivity that can be observed in healthy participants.
Methods: We obtained high-resolution structural imaging in seven patients with midline cerebellar infarcts at two time points. These data were compared to structural imaging of a group of healthy age-matched controls using voxel-based morphometry (2×2 ANOVA approach). The maximum overlap of the infarcts was used as a seed region for a separate resting-state functional connectivity analysis in healthy volunteers.
Results: Volumetric changes were detected in the multisensory cortical vestibular areas around the parieto-opercular and (retro-) insular cortex. Furthermore, structural reorganization was evident in parts of the frontal, temporal, parietal, limbic, and occipital lobes and reflected functional connections between the main infarct regions in the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex in healthy individuals.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates structural reorganization in the parieto-opercular insular vestibular cortex after acute vestibulo-cerebellar infarcts. Additionally, the widely distributed structural reorganization after midline cerebellar infarcts provides additional in vivo evidence for the multifaceted contribution of cerebellar processing to cortical functions that extend beyond vestibular or ocular motor function.
Keywords: Cerebellar; Neuroplasticity; Stroke; VBM; Vestibular.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.