Confusion and memory loss from capsular genu infarction: A thalamocortical disconnection syndrome?

T. K. Tatemichi, D. W. Desmond, I. Prohovnik, D. T. Cross, T. I. Gropen, J. P. Mohr, Y. Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


We examined six patients with an abrupt change in behavior after infarction involving the inferior genu of the internal capsule. The acute syndrome featured fluctuating alertness, inattention, memory loss, apathy, abulia, and psychomotor retardation, suggesting frontal lobe dysfunction. Contralateral hemiparesis and dysarthria were generally mild, except when the infarct extended into the posterior limb. Neuropsychological testing in five patients with left–sided infarcts revealed severe verbal memory loss. Additional cognitive deficits consistent with dementia occurred in four patients. A right–sided infarct caused transient impairment in visuospatial memory. Functional brain imaging in three patients showed a focal reduction in hemispheric perfusion most prominent in the ipsilateral inferior and medial frontal cortex. We infer that the capsular genu infarct interrupted the inferior and anterior thalamic peduncles, resulting in functional deactivation of the ipsilateral frontal cortex. These observations suggest that one mechanism for cognitive deterioration from a lacunar infarct is thalamocortical disconnection of white–matter tracts, in some instances leading to “strategic–infarct dementia.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1966-1979
Number of pages14
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1992


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