Investigating Neurological Correlates of Chiari Malformation Type I Symptomatology: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study of Cognition and Pain


Psychonomics Society Annual Meeting 2017


18 Chiari patients (CMI) and 18 matched control participants were tested using a neuropsychological assessment (RBANS), completed self-report measures of pain and mental health, and underwent diffusion-weighted (DTI) scan sequences. Diffusion indices of fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) were extracted from standardized space.

CMI patients exhibited greater FA, and reduced RD and MD relative to control participants, localized to inferior antero-posterior white matter pathways. In both groups, FA was negatively correlated the the attention subscale of the RBANS and positively associated with pain, anxiety, and stress. RD and MD were negatively associated with pain and stress. RD in CMI patients, but not control participants, was negatively associated with overall performance on the RBANS. These results suggest that compression of white matter tracts, likely due to the chronic inflammatory response exhibited by many CMI patients, potentially accounts for the cognitive dysfunction observed in CMI.


Michelle L. Hughes, James R. Houston, Mei-Ching Lien, Ilana J. Bennett, Sarel G. Vorster, Mark G. Luciano, Francis Loth, Philip A. Allen