Brain Network Dysfunction in Poststroke Delirium and Spatial Neglect: An fMRI Study.
Objective: Delirium, an acute reduction in cognitive functioning, hinders stroke recovery and contributes to cognitive decline. Right-hemisphere stroke is linked with higher delirium incidence, likely, due to the prevalence of spatial neglect (SN), a right-brain disorder of spatial processing. This study tested if symptoms of delirium and SN after right-hemisphere stroke are associated with abnormal function of the right-dominant neural networks specialized for maintaining attention, orientation, and arousal.
Methods: Twenty-nine participants with right-hemisphere ischemic stroke undergoing acute rehabilitation completed delirium and SN assessments and functional neuroimaging scans. Whole-brain functional connectivity of 4 right-hemisphere seed regions in the cortical-subcortical arousal and attention networks was assessed for its relationship to validated SN and delirium severity measures.
Results: Of 29 patients, 6 (21%) met the diagnostic criteria for delirium and 16 (55%) for SN. Decreased connectivity of the right basal forebrain to brain stem and basal ganglia predicted more severe SN. Increased connectivity of the arousal and attention network regions with the parietal, frontal, and temporal structures in the unaffected hemisphere was also found in more severe delirium and SN.
Conclusions: Delirium and SN are associated with decreased arousal network activity and an imbalance of cortico-subcortical hemispheric connectivity. Better understanding of neural correlates of poststroke delirium and SN will lead to improved neuroscience-based treatment development for these disorders. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT03349411.