Indexed on: 24 Mar '12Published on: 24 Mar '12Published in: Psychopathology
Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) is a rare neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the SACS gene (13q12) encoding the protein sacsin. It is characterized by early-onset cerebellar ataxia, lower limb spasticity, sensorimotor axonal polyneuropathy, and atrophy of the superior cerebellar vermis. Cerebellar disorders in general may be accompanied by the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome (CCAS) which presents with disturbances of executive functioning, spatial cognition, linguistic capacities, and affect.Two middle-aged brothers with ARSACS, one of whom was referred for behavioral disinhibition, are described. A detailed neuropsychiatric and neuropsychological assessment was performed.Apart from motor symptoms, motivational deficits along with cognitive and behavioral dysfunctions were present; these were much more pronounced in the older sib.These observations add to the literature which suggests that the cerebellum, apart from its significance for motor behavior, plays a functional role in human cognition and affect. The nonmotor symptoms of ARSACS are discussed in terms of the CCAS.