Microstructural white matter changes and their relation to neuropsychological deficits in patients with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy

Susanne Knake, Christine Roth, Marcus Belke, Jens Sonntag, Tobias Kniess, Soeren Krach, Andreas Jansen, Jens Sommer, Frieder M. Paulus, Barbara Carl, Felix Rosenow, Anke M. Hermsen, Katja Menzler*

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) is the most common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndrome. Neuropsychological, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging studies have led to the hypothesis that JME is related to dysfunction of frontal brain regions and mainly frontal thalamocortical networks. Methods We investigated possible microstructural white matter abnormalities of 20 patients with JME as compared with 20 healthy control subjects using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We analyzed whole-head DTI scans without an a-priori hypothesis using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS). To analyze associated gray matter changes, we applied voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to a 3D T1 magnetization prepared rapid gradient echo (MPRAGE) sequence. Neuropsychological testing and personality trait tests were performed to bridge the gap between structure and function. Results In patients, DTI revealed microstructural white matter changes in anterior parts of the Corpus callosum, anterior parts of the cingulate gyrus, and widespread frontal white matter bilaterally as well as in anterior parts of the right thalamus, which were not accompanied by gray matter changes in VBM. Microstructural changes in the cingulum correlated with personality traits. Neuropsychological test results showed impaired attention and executive functions and reduced short-term memory in the patient group. Also, there was a tendency toward alexithymia and significantly higher scores on depression. Significance The present study results showed neuropsychological deficits including frontal lobe cognitive performance and a tendency toward alexithymia as well as accompanying microstructural neuroimaging changes in patients with JME, which all point to alterations in frontal brain regions and frontal thalamocortical networks in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Pages (from-to)56-62
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.11.2017

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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