Abstract

Positron emission tomography was used to study the effects of unilateral vascular thalamic lesions on cortical oxygen and glucose utilization in 10 patients. There was significant ipsilateral cortex hypometabolism in 9 of the 10 patients, affecting the whole cortical mantle diffusely. The only patient spared was free of neuropsychological deficit at the time of positron emission tomography. In 4 patients, the magnitude of ipsilateral cortical hypometabolism was significantly less at a follow-up PET study, when neuropsychological function had improved When taken together, the 14 studies showed a significant tendency for the hypometabolism to improve with taken together, the 14 studies showed a significant tendency for the hypometabolism to improve with time after clinical onset. These data suggest that the ipsilateral cortical hypometabolism results from damage to the thalamo-cortical connections and reflect either loss of nonspecific activating afferences or a degenerative deafferentation-deefferentation process, or both. Its links with the concept of diaschisis are suggested by its tendency to recover. A causal relationship between cortical hypometabolism and neuropsychological deficit, however, although strongly suggested, cannot be firmly established from the present data.

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