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Lingling Fang, Jia Huang, Qian Zhang, Raymond C. K. Chan, Rong Wang and Weiqing Wan

OBJECTIVE

Dysexecutive syndrome is common in patients with moyamoya disease (MMD), a chronic cerebrovascular disease that is characterized by stenosis of the bilateral internal carotid arteries and progressive collateral revascularization, and MMD can be classified as ischemic or hemorrhagic according to the disease presentation and history. In this study, the authors aimed to determine which aspects of executive function are impaired in patients with MMD, in addition to the specific dysexecutive functions present among its clinical subtypes and the mechanisms underlying dysexecutive function in these patients.

METHODS

The authors administered 5 typical executive function tests (the Stroop test, the Hayling Sentence Completion Test [HSCT], the verbal fluency [VF] test, the N-back test, and the Sustained Attention to Response Task [SART]) to 49 patients with MMD and 47 IQ-, age-, education-, and social status–matched healthy controls. The dysexecutive questionnaire (DEX) was also used to assess participants' subjective feelings about their executive function. A total of 39 of the patients were evaluated by CT perfusion (CTP) before the assessments were performed, and the correlations among the performances of the patients on the above tests with the parameters of cerebral blood volume, cerebral blood flow (CBF), mean transit time (MTT), and time-to-peak (TTP) in the frontal lobes of these patients were also analyzed.

RESULTS

Many aspects of executive function in the patients with MMD were significantly poorer than those in the healthy controls, and the patients performed particularly poorer on the VF test, HSCT, N-back test, and SART. The patients with hemorrhagic MMD exhibited worse executive inhibition, executive processing, and semantic inhibition compared with those with ischemic MMD, but the latter group presented a worse working memory and poorer sustained attention. There were no significant differences in the DEX scores between the patients with MMD and healthy controls. The other findings were as follows: CBF was significantly positively correlated with the number correct on part B of the HSCT (r = 0.481, p = 0.01) and accuracy on the 0-back task of the N-back (r = 0.346, p = 0.031); MTT was significantly positively correlated with accuracy on the 2-back task of the N-back (r = 0.349, p = 0.034) and factor 5 of the DEX (r = 0.359, p = 0.032); and TTP was significantly positively correlated with the number correct on part B of the HSCT (r = 0.402, p = 0.034) and the 1-back reaction time of the N-back (r = 0.356, p = 0.026).

CONCLUSIONS

The patients with MMD exhibited impairments in semantic inhibition, executive processing, working memory, and sustained attention, but they were not aware of these deficits. Moreover, differences in dysexecutive function existed between the different subtypes of MMD. Hypoperfusion of the frontal lobe may be related to working memory and semantic inhibition impairments in patients with MMD.