Cortical and subcortical gray matter bases of cognitive deficits in REM sleep behavior disorder

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To investigate cortical and subcortical gray matter abnormalities underlying cognitive impairment in patients with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) with or without mild cognitive impairment (MCI).


Fifty-two patients with RBD, including 17 patients with MCI, were recruited and compared to 41 controls. All participants underwent extensive clinical assessments, neuropsychological examination, and 3-tesla MRI acquisition of T1 anatomical images. Vertex-based cortical analyses of volume, thickness, and surface area were performed to investigate cortical abnormalities between groups, whereas vertex-based shape analysis was performed to investigate subcortical structure surfaces. Correlations were performed to investigate associations between cortical and subcortical metrics, cognitive domains, and other markers of neurodegeneration (color discrimination, olfaction, and autonomic measures).


Patients with MCI had cortical thinning in the frontal, cingulate, temporal, and occipital cortices, and abnormal surface contraction in the lenticular nucleus and thalamus. Patients without MCI had cortical thinning restricted to the frontal cortex. Lower patient performance in cognitive domains was associated with cortical and subcortical abnormalities. Moreover, impaired performance on olfaction, color discrimination, and autonomic measures was associated with thinning in the occipital lobe.


Cortical and subcortical gray matter abnormalities are associated with cognitive status in patients with RBD, with more extensive patterns in patients with MCI. Our results highlight the importance of distinguishing between subgroups of patients with RBD according to cognitive status in order to better understand the neurodegenerative process in this population.

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