Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 155, Issue 5, pp 841–848 | Cite as

Maze learning in patients with intracranial arachnoid cysts

  • Elisabeth Isaksen
  • Therese Hamre Leet
  • Christian A. Helland
  • Knut WesterEmail author
Experimental research - Functional



The temporal lobe is of importance for visuospatial orientation. Intracranial arachnoid cysts have a predilection for the temporal fossa, and might therefore affect visuospatial orientation. The aim was to find out whether temporal cysts affect maze learning and if surgical cyst decompression improves maze performance.


Forty-five patients with a temporal arachnoid cyst and 17 control patients with cervical disc disease were tested in a labyrinth route in the hospital corridors the day before surgery and at least 3 months postoperatively.


Thirty-five cyst patients (78 %) experienced postoperative improvement of their preoperative complaints. The cyst patients spent significantly longer time than the controls navigating through the maze in the preoperative test, 161 s and 127 s, respectively, but there was no difference in number of errors between the two groups. However, the cyst patients improved significantly in the postoperative test, both with regards to number of errors they made and time spent, contrary to the control patients, whose postoperative performance equalled that of the preoperative test. For the cyst patients, postoperative improvement in the labyrinth test correlated with the clinical outcome—but not the neuroradiological outcome—after the operation.


Thus, temporal arachnoid cysts may affect visuospatial orientation and learning in a reversible manner.


Arachnoid cyst Cognition Learning Memory Spatial orientation Temporal lobe 



The participation of Dr. Einar Vik-Mo in the early phases of the study is acknowledged.


This work was partly supported by a research grant to C. A. Helland from the Norwegian Research Council Medical Research Division and a PhD research grant from Health Region West, Norway. The other authors received no funding.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Isaksen
    • 1
  • Therese Hamre Leet
    • 1
  • Christian A. Helland
    • 1
    • 2
  • Knut Wester
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Surgical SciencesUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryHaukeland University HospitalBergenNorway

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