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Brain. 2004 Jun;127(Pt 6):1269-91. Epub 2004 May 5.

The human basis pontis: motor syndromes and topographic organization.

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Department of Neurology VBK 915, Massachusetts General Hospital, Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Clinical-anatomic correlations were performed in 25 patients with focal infarcts in the basilar pons to determine whether pontine lacunar syndromes conform to discrete clinical entities, and whether there is topographic organization of the motor system within the human basis pontis. Twelve clinical signs were scored on a 6-point scale, neuroimaging lesions were mapped and defined with statistical certainty, and structure-function correlation was performed to develop a topographic map of motor function. Clinical findings ranged from major devastation following extensive lesions (pure motor hemiplegia) to incomplete basilar pontine syndrome and restricted deficits after small focal lesions (ataxic hemiparesis, dysarthria-clumsy hand syndrome, dysarthria-dysmetria and dysarthria-facial paresis). The syndromes are not absolutely discrete, and are distinguished from each other by the relative degree of involvement of each clinical feature. Structure-function correlations indicate that strength is conveyed by the corticofugal fibres destined for the spinal cord, whereas dysmetria results from lesions involving the neurons of the basilar pons that link the ipsilateral cerebral cortex with the contralateral cerebellar hemisphere. Facial movement and articulation are localized to rostral and medial basilar pons; hand coordination is medial and ventral in rostral and mid-pons; and arm function is represented ventral and lateral to the hand. Leg coordination is in the caudal half of the pons, with lateral predominance. Swallowing is dependent upon the integrity of a number of regions in the rostral pons. Gait is in medial and lateral locations throughout the rostral- caudal extent of the pons. Dysmetria ipsilateral to the lesion constitutes a disconnection syndrome, as it occurs when the hemipontine lesion is extensive and interrupts pontocerebellar fibres traversing from the opposite, intact side of the pons. The heterogeneity of manifestations reflects the well-organized topography of motor function in the human basis pontis, in agreement with the anatomic organization of the motor corticopontine projections in the monkey. Higher order impairments including motor neglect, paraphasic errors and pathological laughter result from rostral and medial pontine lesions, and may result from disruption of the pontine component of associative corticopontocerebellar circuits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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