Glioblastoma surgery related emotion recognition deficits are associated with right cerebral hemisphere tract changes.
Patients with glioblastoma face abysmal overall survival, cognitive deficits, poor quality of life and limitations to social participation; partly attributable to surgery. Emotion recognition deficits mediated by pathophysiological mechanisms in the right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and right inferior longitudinal fasciculus have been demonstrated in traumatic brain injury and dementia, with negative associations for social participation. We hypothesize similar mechanisms occur in patients undergoing resection surgery for glioblastoma. Here, we apply tract-based spatial statistics using a combination of automated image registration methods alongside cognitive testing before and after surgery. In this prospective, longitudinal, observational study of 15 patients, surgery is associated with an increase in emotion recognition deficits (P = 0.009) and this is correlated with decreases in fractional anisotropy in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, anterior thalamic radiation and uncinate fasciculus; all in the right hemisphere (P = 0.014). Methodologically, the combination of registration steps used demonstrate that tract-based spatial statistics can be applied in the context of large, scan distorting lesions such as glioblastoma. These results can inform clinical consultations with patients undergoing surgery, support consideration for social cognition rehabilitation and are consistent with theoretical mechanisms that implicate these tracts in emotion recognition deficits across different diseases.