Uncinate fasciculus connectivity in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: A preliminary diffusion tensor tractography study

Academic Article


  • The amygdala, hippocampus, and medial prefrontal cortex are limbic brain regions connected by the uncinate fasciculus (UF) and implicated in emotion regulation. The aim of this study was to assess the connectivity characteristics of the UF in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) and matched healthy controls. We hypothesized that white matter connectivity of the UF in patients with PNES would differ from that in healthy controls. Eight patients with PNES and eight age- and sex-matched healthy controls underwent 3T MRI and 32-direction diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Computation of DTI indices including fractional anisotropy (FA) and diffusion tensor tractography was performed. Two regions of interest were defined to manually trace the UF in each hemisphere for each subject. Fractional anisotropy and the number of reconstructed streamlines for the left and right hemispheres of the UF and the degree of asymmetry for each measure were compared between groups. Correlations between UF measures and clinical variables were also performed. Patients with PNES exhibited a significantly greater number of UF streamlines in the right hemisphere tract than in the left hemisphere (p = 0.031), with such difference not observed in controls (p = 0.81). This was reflected in a significant group difference in the asymmetry index (AI) for the number of streamlines, with more rightward asymmetry in patients with PNES (p = 0.021). Average FA of the UF was similar between groups and between hemispheres for each group (all p > 0.05). Age at illness onset was correlated with the AI for FA (r = - 0.87; p = 0.0045). Previously observed differences in emotion processing between controls and patients with PNES may be related to the differences in the rightward asymmetry in the number of UF streamlines in patients with PNES. Age at PNES onset appears to also have a role in the FA asymmetry of the UF. This is the first study to investigate the structural connectivity in these regions involved in emotional regulation in patients with PNES; further research is necessary to clarify the complex relationships between clinical measures and DTI characteristics.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 25586794
  • Author List

  • Hernando KA; Szaflarski JP; Ver Hoef LW; Lee S; Allendorfer JB
  • Start Page

  • 68
  • End Page

  • 73
  • Volume

  • 45