Pathological laughter and crying in patients with multiple system atrophy-cerebellar type



In the cerebellar type of multiple system atrophy (MSA-C), the burden of pathological changes involves the cerebellum and its associated brainstem structures in the basis pontis and the inferior olivary nucleus, and as a result, the clinical phenotype is dominated early on by the cerebellar dysfunction. We report our clinical and post mortem findings in a patient with MSA-C who exhibited pathological laughter in the absence of any congruent changes of mood. A review of the clinical notes of 27 other patients with MSA-C revealed a problem with pathological laughter, or crying, or both in 9 more patients. Our finding of about 36% occurrence suggests that the problem of dysregulation of emotional expression is more prevalent in MSA-C than the paucity of reports in the literature suggests. Our findings are consistent with the view that the cerebellum and its interconnected structures may be involved in the regulation of emotional expression. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society