Case report: Multiple disconnection patterns revealed by a multi-modal analysis explained behavior after a focal frontal damage
There is overwhelming evidence that focal lesions cause structural, metabolic, functional, and electrical disconnection of regions directly and indirectly connected with the site of injury. Unfortunately, methods to study disconnection (positron emission tomography, structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography) have been applied primarily in isolation without capturing their interaction. Moreover, multi-modal imaging studies applied to focal lesions are rare.Case report
We analyzed with a multi-modal approach the case of a patient presenting with borderline cognitive deficits across multiple domains and recurrent delirium. A post-surgical focal frontal lesion was evident based on the brain anatomical MRI. However, we were able to acquire also simultaneous MRI (structural and functional) and [18F]FDG using a hybrid PET/MRI scan along with EEG recordings. Despite the focality of the primary anatomical lesion, structural disconnection in the white matter bundles extended far beyond the lesion and showed a topographical match with the cortical glucose hypometabolism seen both locally and remotely, in posterior cortices. Similarly, a right frontal delta activity near/at the region of structural damage was associated with alterations of distant occipital alpha power. Moreover, functional MRI revealed even more widespread local and distant synchronization, involving also regions not affected by the structural/metabolic/electrical impairment.Conclusion
Overall, this exemplary multi-modal case study illustrates how a focal brain lesion causes a multiplicity of disconnection and functional impairments that extend beyond the borders of the anatomical irrecoverable damage. These effects were relevant to explain patient’s behavior and may be potential targets of neuro-modulation strategies.
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