Early volumetric changes of hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex following medial temporal lobe resection

Anna Pajkert, Christoph J Ploner, Thomas-Nicolas Lehmann, Veronica A Witte, Frank Oltmanns, Werner Sommer, Martin Holtkamp, Hauke R Heekeren, Carsten Finke

Previous studies have shown that cognitive demands and physical exercise stimulate adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus and hippocampus. Recent observations in healthy humans and patients with mild cognitive impairment moreover suggest that training‐induced increases in hippocampal volume may be associated with improved memory performance. The corresponding plasticity processes in hippocampal volume may occur on timescales of months to years. For patients with focal lesions in this region, previous functional imaging studies suggest that increased recruitment of the contralateral hippocampus and extratemporal regions may be an important part of the reorganization of episodic memory. However, it is currently unclear whether focal damage to the medial temporal lobe (MTL) induces gray matter (GM) volume changes in the intact contralateral hippocampus and in connected network regions on a shorter timescale. We therefore investigated whether unilateral resection of the MTL, including the hippocampus, induces measurable volumetric changes in the contralateral hippocampus and in the default mode network (DMN). We recruited 31 patients with unilateral left (N = 19) or right (N = 12) hippocampal sclerosis undergoing MTL resection for treatment of drug‐resistant epilepsy. Structural MRI was acquired immediately before and 3 months after surgery. Longitudinal voxel‐based morphometry (VBM) analysis revealed a significant increase of right hippocampal volume following resection of the left anterior MTL. Furthermore, this patient group showed GM volume increases in the DMN. These results demonstrate significant structural plasticity of the contralateral hippocampus, even in patients with a long‐standing unilateral hippocampal dysfunction and structural reorganization processes extending to distant, but functionally connected brain regions.

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Eur J Neurosci. 52(10):4375-4384 (2020)


default mode networkhippocampusmedial prefrontal cortexmedial temporal lobe resectionplasticity
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