Cognitive Features of Essential Tremor: A Review of the Clinical Aspects and Possible Mechanistic Underpinnings
Background: The classical concept of essential tremor (ET) as a monosymptomatic tremorogenic disorder has been questioned in the last decade as new evidence has been described. Clinical, neuroimaging, and pathological studies have described a probable structural basis (mainly in cerebellum) and evidence that ET is associated with subtle clinical cerebellar deficits and several non-motor clinical manifestations, such as cognitive and mood disorders.
Case Report: We performed literature searches in Medline, ISI Web of Knowledge, and PsycInfo databases. The aim of this review is to describe cognitive deficits associated with ET. First, we present a brief history of ET cognitive disorders presented. Second, we describe several clinical cross-sectional series demonstrating that ET is associated with mild cognitive deficits of attention, executive functions, several types of memory (working memory, immediate, short term, delayed, and possibly others) and, mood disorders (depression).
Discussion: Recent neuroimaging studies favor a cerebellar basis for these cognitive deficits. Population-based surveys confirm that mild cognitive dysfunction is not limited to severe ET cases, the entire ET group, including mild and undiagnosed cases, can be affected. Cohort studies indicated that ET cognitive deficits could be progressive and that ET patients had an increased risk of dementia. The mood and cognitive deficits in ET are in agreement with cognitive affective cerebellar syndrome described in patients with cerebellar disorders. New evidence, mainly from functional (neuroimaging) and prospective clinical studies would further bolster recent descriptions of ET clinical manifestations.