Essential tremor (ET) is the most common movement disorder. Its neural underpinnings remain unclear. Here, we quantified structural covariance between cortical thickness (CT), surface area (SA) and mean curvature (MC) estimates in patients with ET before and one year after ventro-intermediate nucleus stereotactic radiosurgical thalamotomy, and contrasted the observed patterns with those from matched healthy controls. For SA, complex rearrangements within a network of motion-related brain areas characterized patients with ET. This was complemented by MC alterations revolving around the left middle temporal cortex, and the disappearance of positive-valued covariance across both modalities in the right fusiform gyrus. Recovery following thalamotomy involved MC readjustments in frontal brain centers, the amygdala and the insula, capturing non-motor characteristics of the disease. The appearance of negative-valued CT covariance between the left parahippocampal gyrus and hippocampus was another recovery mechanism involving high-level visual areas. This was complemented by the appearance of negative-valued CT/MC covariance, and positive-valued SA/MC covariance, in the right inferior temporal cortex and bilateral fusiform gyrus. Our results demonstrate that different morphometric properties provide complementary information to understand ET, and that their statistical cross-dependences are also valuable. They pinpoint several anatomical features of the disease, and highlight routes of recovery following thalamotomy.

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Handling Editor: Andrew Zalesky

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