Structural and metabolic brain correlates of arithmetic word-problem solving in Huntington's disease

J Neurosci Res. 2023 Jun;101(6):990-999. doi: 10.1002/jnr.25174. Epub 2023 Feb 19.


Individuals with pre-manifest and early symptomatic Huntington's disease (HD) have shown deficits in solving arithmetic word-problems. However, the neural correlates of these deficits in HD are poorly understood. We explored the structural (gray-matter volume; GMV) and metabolic (18F-FDG PET; SUVr) brain correlates of arithmetic performance using the recently developed HD-word problem arithmetic task (HD-WPA) in seventeen preHD and sixteen HD individuals. Symptomatic participants showed significantly lower scores in the HD-WPA than preHD participants. Lower performance in the HD-WPA was associated with reduced GMV in subcortical, medial frontal, and several posterior-cortical clusters in HD participants. No significant GMV loss was found in preHD participants. 18F-FDG data revealed a widespread pattern of hypometabolism in association with lower arithmetic performance in all participants. In preHD participants, this pattern was restricted to the ventrolateral and orbital prefrontal cortex, the insula, and the precentral gyrus. In HD participants, the pattern extended to several parietal-temporal regions. Word-problem solving arithmetic deficits in HD is subserved by a pattern of asynchronous metabolic and structural compromise across the cerebral cortex as a function of disease stage. In preHD individuals, arithmetic deficits were associated with prefrontal alterations, whereas in symptomatic HD patients, more severe arithmetic deficits are associated with the compromise of several frontal-subcortical and temporo-parietal regions. Our results support the hypothesis that cognitive deficits in HD are not exclusively dominated by frontal-striatal dysfunctions but also involve fronto-temporal and parieto-occipital damage.

Keywords: Huntington's disease; arithmetic; cognition; neuroimaging; neuropsychology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders* / complications
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease* / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Problem Solving


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18