Voxel based morphometry alterations in mal de debarquement syndrome

Yoon Hee Cha, Shruthi Chakrapani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background Mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS) is a disorder of chronic self-motion perception that occurs though entrainment to rhythmic background motion, such as from sea voyage, and involves the perception of low-frequency rocking that can last for months or years. The neural basis of this persistent sensory perception abnormality is not well understood. Methods We investigated grey matter volume differences underlying persistent MdDS by performing voxel-based morphometry on whole brain and pre-specified ROIs in 28 individuals with MdDS and comparing them to 18 age, sex, and handedness matched controls. Results MdDS participants exhibited greater grey matter volume in the left inferior parietal lobule, right inferior occipital gyrus (area V3v), right temporal pole, bilateral cerebellar hemispheric lobules VIII/IX and left lobule VIIa/VIIb. Grey matter volumes were lower in bilateral inferior frontal, orbitofrontal, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pgACC) and left superior medial gyri (t = 3.0, p<0.005uncorr). In ROI analyses, there were no volume differences in the middle occipital gyrus (region of V5/MT) or parietal operculum 2 (region of the parietoinsular vestibular cortex). Illness duration was positively related to grey matter volume in bilateral inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula (IFG/AI), right posterior insula, superior parietal lobule, left middle occipital gyrus (V5/MT), bilateral postcentral gyrus, anterior cerebellum, and left cerebellar hemisphere and vermian lobule IX. In contrast, illness duration was negatively related to volume in pgACC, posterior middle cingulate gyrus (MCC), left middle frontal gyrus (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-DLPFC), and right cerebellar hemispheric lobule VIIIb (t = 3.0, p<0.005uncorr). The most significant differences were decreased volume in the pgACC and increased volume in the left IFG/AI with longer illness duration (qFDRcorr <0.05). Concurrent medication use did not correlate with these findings or have a relationship with duration of illness. MdDS participants showed positive correlations between grey matter volume in pgACC and bilateral cerebellar lobules VIII/IX, which was not seen in controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0135021
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 7 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Drs. Martin Paulus and Paul Hamilton for helpful critiques of earlier drafts of the manuscript. The authors are grateful for the generous support from the Brain Mapping Medical Research Organization, Brain Mapping Support Foundation, Pierson-Lovelace Foundation, The Ahmanson Foundation, Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation, William M. and Linda R. Dietel Philanthropic Fund, and Northstar Fund. Research reported in this publication was also partially supported by the National Center for Research Resources and by the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers C06RR012169, C06RR015431 and S10OD011939. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The funding sources played no role in the conception, execution, analysis, or manuscript preparation of this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Cha, Chakrapani. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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