Patients diagnosed with a colloid cyst may experience not only neurological symptoms, but cognitive ones as well. Due to their location, colloid cysts often obstruct the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. That obstruction causes the ventricles (cavities in the brain that hold cerebrospinal fluid) to swell, a condition called hydrocephalus. The expanded ventricles can stretch the fibers that connect different parts of the brain, which results in slowed thinking capabilities. The cyst itself can also stretch a fiber bundle called the fornix that is crucial in learning and forming memories.
Dr. Heidi Allison Bender, Director of Clinical Neuropsychology at Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery, conducts neurocognitive evaluations on patients diagnosed with colloid cysts, with the goal of understanding the patient’s brain-behavior relationships. The evaluation includes assessment of an individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses in domains such as language, attention, memory, problem solving, thinking, reasoning, motor coordination, mood, and behavior. The evaluation uses question-and-answer and paper-and-pencil tests of these abilities to determine if they are normal or impaired. Unlike neuroimaging such as CT or MRI, which take pictures of the brain, neuropsychological testing examines how the brain is actually working in various areas. Impairment in some functions can help determine if the cyst is symptomatic, which can help Dr. Souweidane in his treatment planning.
A follow-up evaluation after surgery can identify changes in neurocognitive functioning that could be helped by treatment such as cognitive remediation. Dr. Bender and Dr. Amanda Sacks-Zimmerman provide cognitive remediation services to help patients develop and maintain compensatory strategies for attention, executive functioning, and memory difficulties across the lifespan.
Both neuropsychologists are also active in research, studying the effects of colloid cysts on neurobehavioral functioning. This research includes examining the relationship between the cysts and hydrocephalus, their effects on the fiber tracts connecting brain areas, and the impact on memory and frontal executive functions. Neuropsychological research is also being conducted with patients before and after neurosurgical resection of colloid cysts to help determine if the surgery changes any neurobehavioral functions and the effectiveness of interventions such as cognitive remediation.
For these reasons, the Neuropsychological Service at Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery plays an important role in the team of professionals working with Dr. Souweidane in his treatment and research of colloid cysts with the goal of treating the whole patient. For more information on neuropsychology and colloid cysts, use our online form to request an appointment.
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Souweidane
Last reviewed/last updated: January 2021