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Eur J Neurol. 2006 Feb;13(2):161-70.

Subtle cognitive deficits after cerebellar infarcts.

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1
Department of Neurology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. laura.hokkanen@helsinki.fi

Abstract

The role of the cerebellum in cognitive functions has been under debate. We investigated the neuropsychological functioning of patients with cerebellar lesions (infarcts) and evaluated the significance of laterality in cognitive symptoms. Twenty-six patients with exclusive cerebellar lesions as verified by clinical and neuroradiological findings underwent a neuropsychological assessment at the acute stage and at 3 months. Their performance was compared with 14 controls, also assessed twice. The focus was on four domains: visuospatial/motor functions, episodic memory, working memory and attentional shifting/execution. Both groups improved over time. Statistical differences emerged in tests in the visuomotor domain as well as in the episodic and working memory domains. Patients with left cerebellar lesion were slow in a visuospatial task, whereas those with right cerebellar lesions had verbal memory difficulty compared with controls. By 3 months, 77% of the patients had returned to work, and only one had cognitive impairment and did not return to work. Our results indicate that cerebellar infarcts may result in subtle cognitive changes perhaps primarily related to working memory deficit. The symptoms may be mediated by the contralateral cortical hemisphere, left cerebellar infarcts producing mild right hemispheral dysfunction and right cerebellar infarct producing mild left hemispheral dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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