Neuronal correlates of cognitive function in patients with childhood cerebellar tumor lesions

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Abstract

While it has been shown that cerebellar tumor lesions have an impact on cognitive functions, the extent to which they shape distant neuronal pathways is still largely undescribed. Thus, the present neuroimaging study was designed to investigate different aspects of cognitive function and their neuronal correlates in patients after childhood cerebellar tumor surgery. An alertness task, a working memory task and an incompatibility task were performed by 11 patients after childhood cerebellar tumor surgery and 17 healthy controls. Neuronal correlates as reflected by alterations in functional networks during tasks were assessed using group independent component analysis. We were able to identify eight networks involved during task performance: default mode network, precuneus, anterior salience network, executive control network, visual network, auditory and sensorimotor network and a cerebellar network. For the most ‘basic’ cognitive tasks, a weaker task-modulation of default mode network, left executive control network and the cerebellar network was observed in patients compared to controls. Results for higher-order tasks are in line with a partial restoration of networks responsible for higher-order task execution. Our results provide tentative evidence that the synchronicity of brain activity in patients was at least partially restored in the course of neuroplastic reorganization, particularly for networks related to higher-order cognitive processes. The complex activation patterns underline the importance of testing several cognitive functions to assess the specificity of cognitive deficits and neuronal reorganization processes after brain lesions.

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Reichert, J. L., Chocholous, M., Leiss, U., Pletschko, T., Kasprian, G., Furtner, J., … Dorfer, C. (2017). Neuronal correlates of cognitive function in patients with childhood cerebellar tumor lesions. PLoS ONE, 12(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180200

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