Objective To detect anatomical differences in areas related to motor processing between patients with motor conversion disorder (CD) and controls.
Methods T1-weighted 3T brain MRI data of 15 patients suffering from motor CD (nine with hemiparesis and six with paraparesis) and 25 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers were compared using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and voxel-based cortical thickness (VBCT) analysis.
Results We report significant cortical thickness (VBCT) increases in the bilateral premotor cortex of hemiparetic patients relative to controls and a trend towards increased grey matter volume (VBM) in the same region. Regression analyses showed a non-significant positive correlation between cortical thickness changes and symptom severity as well as illness duration in CD patients.
Conclusions Cortical thickness increases in premotor cortical areas of patients with hemiparetic CD provide evidence for altered brain structure in a condition with presumed normal brain anatomy. These may either represent premorbid vulnerability or a plasticity phenomenon related to the disease with the trends towards correlations with clinical variables supporting the latter.