Increased microstructural white matter correlations in left, but not right, temporal lobe epilepsy

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Abstract

Microstructural white matter tract correlations have been shown to reflect known patterns of phylogenetic development and functional specialization in healthy subjects. The aim of this study was to establish intertract correlations in a group of controls and to examine potential deviations from normality in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). We investigated intertract correlations in 28 healthy controls, 21 left TLE (LTLE) and 23 right TLE (RTLE). Nine tracts were investigated, comprising the parahippocampal fasciculi, the uncinate fasciculi, the arcuate fasciculi, the frontoparietal tracts, and the fornix. An abnormal increase in tract correlations was observed in LTLE, while RTLE showed intertract correlations similar to controls. In the control group, tract correlations increased with increasing fractional anisotropy (FA), while in the TLE groups tract correlations increased with decreasing FA. Cluster analyses revealed agglomeration of bilateral pairs of homologous tracts in healthy subjects, with such pairs separated in our LTLE and RTLE groups. Discriminant analyses aimed at distinguishing LTLE from RTLE, revealing that tract correlations produce higher rates of accurate group classification than FA values. Our results confirm and extend previous work by showing that LTLE compared to RTLE patients display not only more extensive losses in microstructural orientation but also more aberrant intertract correlations. Aberrant correlations may be related to pathologic processes (i.e., seizure spread) or to adaptive processes aimed at preserving key cognitive functions. Our data suggest that tract correlations may have predictive value in distinguishing LTLE from RTLE, potentially moving diffusion imaging to a place of greater prominence in clinical practice. Hum Brain Mapp, 36:85–98, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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