Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have detected white matter microstructural changes in essential tremor (ET). However, it is still unclear whether these changes are related to cognitive deficits, which have been described in ET patients. DTI-derived fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity measures were compared between 23 ET patients and 23 age-, gender-, and education-matched healthy individuals, using whole-brain tract-based spatial statistics. Correlations of white matter changes with scores obtained from a detailed neuropsychological assessment were subsequently examined. ET patients demonstrated increases in MD in the bilateral posterior corona radiata, bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculus, bilateral fornix (cres)/stria terminalis, genu and splenium of the corpus callosum, bilateral anterior and posterior limbs of internal capsule, bilateral retrolenticular region part of internal capsule, and left posterior thalamic radiation. Except for the genu of the corpus callosum, an increase in AD values was also found in these same tracts. Furthermore, increased MD and AD values in different white matter areas was negatively correlated with performance on language and verbal memory and positively with visuospatial ability. These correlations suggest that white matter changes might be involved in the pathogenesis of cognitive deficits in ET.
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