Date of Award

8-8-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Tricia Z. King, PhD

Second Advisor

Bruce Crosson, PhD

Third Advisor

Jessica Turner, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Conway, PhD

Abstract

Background. Right cerebellar-left frontal (RC-LF) white matter integrity (WMI) has been associated with working memory. Right Superior Longitudinal Fasciculus II (SLF II) WMI has been associated with visual attention. These relationships have held true for neurotypical controls and brain tumor survivors. The current study examined the relationships between RC-LF WMI and processing speed, attention, and working memory. SLF II WMI and visual attention were included as a control tract and task to demonstrate a correlational double dissociation. This study also examined the relationship between the volume of brain regions within the RC-LF network and RC-LF WMI.

Methods. Adult survivors of childhood brain tumors (n= 29, age: M=22 years (SD= 5), 45% female) were treated with neurosurgery, and combinations of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Age- and gender-matched controls (n=29) were also included. Tests of auditory attention span, working memory, visual attention, and processing speed served as cognitive measures. Participants completed a 3T MRI diffusion imaging scan. WMI (FA, RD) and volume served as neuroimaging measures. In the survivor group, partial correlations between WMI and cognitive scores included controlling for type of treatment.

Results. A correlational double dissociation was found. RC-LF WMI was associated with auditory attention span (FA: r=.42, p=.03; RD: r=-.50, p=.01), and was not associated with visual attention (FA: r=-.11, p=.59; RD: r=-.11, p=.57). SLF II FA WMI was associated with visual attention (FA: r=.44, p=.02; RD: r=-.17, p=.40), and was not associated with auditory attention span (FA: r=.24, p=.22; RD: r=-.10, p=.62). The relationship between RC-LF WMI and auditory attention span robustly dissociated from working memory and visual attention. In the radiation group, thalamic-frontal segment of RC-LF WMI associated with the volumetric measures of each structure of the RC-LF pathway, whereas in the no radiation group cerebellar-rubral segment of RC-LF WMI associated with the volumetric measures.

Conclusions. The current study advances the understanding of structural brain changes following cerebellar tumor resection and treatment because the results show that RC-LF WMI is associated with auditory attention span rather that working memory, provide evidence for a correlational double dissociation, and suggest distinct relationships between WMI and volume based on treatment.

Available for download on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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