Hypoactivity in the Paraterminal Gyrus Following Bilateral Anterior Capsulotomy.


OBJECTIVE: Bilateral anterior capsulotomy (BAC) is one of the ablative neurosurgical procedures used to treat major depressive disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder when all other therapies fail. Tristolysis, a reduction in sadness, is the most striking clinical effect of BAC and is seen in the first 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. This retrospective study measured regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) following surgery to identify which cortical regions were impacted and could account for this clinical effect. METHODS: All patients had their capsulotomies done in Vancouver by the same team. Pre- and postoperative single-photon emission computed tomography perfusion scans were analyzed for 10 patients with major depressive disorder and 3 with obsessive-compulsive disorder. rCBF was measured semiquantitatively by calculating the ratio between an identified region of interest and a whole brain reference area. RESULTS: Decreased rCBF was found in the paraterminal gyri. Increased rCBF was found in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortices and in the left lateral temporal lobe. CONCLUSIONS: BAC causes hypoactivity in the paraterminal gyri and is the most likely explanation for its tristolytic effect, suggesting that the paraterminal gyrus is the limbic cortical locus for the emotion of sadness. Increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortices may be occurring via connectional diaschisis, and suppression by overactive paraterminal gyri during depression may account for some of the neurocognitive deficits observed during depressive episodes.