Neuropsychological deficits in essential tremor: An expression of cerebello-thalamo-cortical pathophysiology?

A. I. Tröster, S. P. Woods, J. A. Fields, K. E. Lyons, R. Pahwa, C. I. Higginson, W. C. Koller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Few studies have been published regarding the neuropsychological characteristics of patients with essential tremor (ET), but preliminary findings suggest that mild attentional and executive dysfunction accompany the disorder. A consecutive series of 101 patients with ET referred for thalamotomy and/or thalamic deep brain stimulation candidacy work-up also underwent neuropsychological evaluation. Average neuropsychological test scores were calculated, along with the proportions of subjects whose scores fell within or more than one SD above or below the mean (using demographically corrected normative data). Significantly lower than average (T-score of 50) scores were evident on measures of complex auditory attention, visual attention and response inhibition, recall of a word list, verbal fluency, and visual confrontation naming. A significantly greater proportion of patients (ranging from about 34 to 60%) than might be expected on the basis of a normal distribution obtained scores more than one SD below the normative mean on select measures of attention, verbal fluency, immediate word list recall, semantic encoding, and facial matching. Consistent with prior research, notable, albeit clinically subtle, deficits in attention and select executive functions are evident in patients with ET. Although not specific to ET or cerebellar dysfunction, the observed pattern of cognitive deficits is consistent with cerebello-thalamo-cortical circuit dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Cerebellum
  • Cognition
  • Essential tremor
  • Neuropsychology
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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