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Popp, Pauline, Eulenburg, Peter zu, Stephan, Thomas, Bögle, Rainer, Habs, Maximilian, Henningsen, Peter, Feuerecker, Regina and Dieterich, Marianne (2018): Cortical alterations in phobic postural vertigo - a multimodal imaging approach. In: Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, Vol. 5, No. 6: pp. 717-729 [PDF, 891kB]


Objective: Functional dizziness syndromes are among the most common diagnoses made in patients with chronic dizziness, but their underlying neural characteristics are largely unknown. The aim of this neuroimaging study was to analyze the disease-specific brain changes in patients with phobic postural vertigo (PPV). Methods: We measured brain morphology, task response, and functional connectivity in 44 patients with PPV and 44 healthy controls. Results: The analyses revealed a relative structural increase in regions of the prefrontal cortex and the associated thalamic projection zones as well as in the primary motor cortex. Morphological increases in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex positively correlated with disease duration, whereas increases in dorsolateral, medial, and ventromedial prefrontal areas positively correlated with the Beck depression index. Visual motion stimulation caused an increased task-dependent activity in the subgenual anterior cingulum and a significantly longer duration of the motion aftereffect in the patients. Task-based functional connectivity analyses revealed aberrant involvement of interoceptive, fear generalization, and orbitofrontal networks. InterpretationOur findings agree with some of the typical characteristics of functional dizziness syndromes, for example, excessive self-awareness, anxious appraisal, and obsessive controlling of posture. This first evidence indicates that the disease-specific mechanisms underlying PPV are related to networks involved in mood regulation, fear generalization, interoception, and cognitive control. They do not seem to be the result of aberrant processing in cortical visual, visual motion, or vestibular regions.

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