Cognitive, affective and behavioural disturbances following vascular thalamic lesions: a review
Faculty of Social Sciences. Instructional and Educational Sciences
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Cortex. - Milano
, p. 273-319
During the last decades, many studies have shown that the thalamus is crucially involved in language and cognition. We critically reviewed a study corpus of 465 patients with vascular thalamic lesions published in the literature since 1980. 42 out of 465 (9%) cases with isolated thalamic lesions allowed further neurocognitive analysis. On the neurolinguistic level, fluent output (=31/33; 93.9%), normal to mild impairment of repetition (=33/35; 94.3%), mild dysarthria (=8/9; 88.9%) and normal to mild impairment of auditory comprehension (=27/34; 79.4%) were most commonly found in the group of patients with left and bilateral thalamic lesions. The taxonomic label of thalamic aphasia applied to the majority of the patients with left thalamic damage (=7/11; 63.6%) and to one patient with bithalamic lesions (=1/1). On the neuropsychological level, almost 90% of the left thalamic and bithalamic patient group presented with amnestic problems, executive dysfunctions and behaviour and/or mood alterations. In addition, two thirds (2/3) of the patients with bilateral thalamic damage presented with a typical cluster of neurocognitive disturbances consisting of constructional apraxia, anosognosia, desorientation, global intellectual dysfunctioning, amnesia, and executive dysfunctions associated with behaviour and/or mood alterations. Our study supports the long-standing view of a lateralised linguistic thalamus but restates the issue of a lateralised cognitive thalamus. In addition, critical analysis of the available literature supports the view that aphasia following left or bithalamic damage constitutes a prototypical linguistic syndrome.