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Connectivity patterns may help predicting cognitive decline after neurosurgery

14.02.2017 11:03

A study co-authored by Branco Weiss fellow Linda Douw shows that preoperative measurement of the dynamics of “functional connectivity” may be essential for predicting whether patients will or will not develop problems with their cognitive functioning after undergoing neurosurgery. The paper was published recently in Scientific Reports.

Resective neurosurgery, which is a commonly used treatment for brain tumors and other lesions causing epileptic seizures, sometimes leads to postoperative cognitive deterioration. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to predict which patients are at risk for developing these impactful cognitive problems.

The researchers used an innovative approach to determine the characteristics of communication patterns throughout the brain before and after such surgery. They hypothesized that a pathologically increased level of communication, particularly of the regions in the brain that are already considered ‘hubs’, would be indicative of future cognitive problems.

Twenty-eight patients with lesions causing epilepsy (mostly primary brain tumors) underwent magnetoencephalography. They also underwent neuropsychological assessments preoperatively and 1-year after neurosurgery to test their cognitive functioning. Patients’ hub load was determined by investigating communication and dynamics of hub regions with the rest of the brain. Results show that deteriorating memory functioning was indeed correlated with higher hub load. Moreover, it was even possible to predict which patients would develop cognitive problems using only the preoperative hub load measurement.

Although the study needs to be replicated, these findings suggest that this measure of hub load may be used as a prognostic marker for tailored treatment planning in surgical candidates.


Read the paper on the Scientific Reports website