Functional Dizziness as a Spatial Cognitive Dysfunction

Año de publicación: 2024

Sitio de publicación: Brain Sciences


(1) Background: Persistent postural-perceptual dizziness (PPPD) is a common chronic dizziness disorder with an unclear pathophysiology. It is hypothesized that PPPD may involve disrupted spatial cognition processes as a core feature. (2) Methods: A cohort of 19 PPPD patients underwent psycho-cognitive testing, including assessments for anxiety, depression, memory, attention, planning, and executive functions, with an emphasis on spatial navigation via a virtual Morris water maze. These patients were compared with 12 healthy controls and 20 individuals with other vestibular disorders but without PPPD. Vestibular function was evaluated using video head impulse testing and vestibular evoked myogenic potentials, while brain magnetic resonance imaging was used to exclude confounding pathology. (3) Results: PPPD patients demonstrated unique impairments in allocentric spatial navigation (as evidenced by the virtual Morris water maze) and in other high-demand visuospatial cognitive tasks that involve executive functions and planning, such as the Towers of London and Trail Making B tests. A factor analysis highlighted spatial navigation and advanced visuospatial functions as being central to PPPD, with a strong correlation to symptom severity. (4) Conclusions: PPPD may broadly impair higher cognitive functions, especially in spatial cognition. We discuss a disruption in the creation of enriched cognitive spatial maps as a possible pathophysiology for PPPD.