White Matter Lesions

Top 5 Causes for White Matter Lesions


Two types of matter are present in the brain; grey and white matter.  Lesions can occur on either type, but are more prevalent on white matter.  The occurrence of these lesions is generally attributed to specific conditions, but diagnosing these conditions can be challenging.



Physiology of the brain

The brain and the spinal cord compose the body’s central nervous system; controlling the responses of the entire body and providing our emotional capabilities.  The brain is divided into 3 separate components; the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brainstem.  The largest section of the brain is the cerebrum, which is where both grey and white matter is found.

In other words, any type of sensation travels through the nervous system through the spinal cord to the brainstem to the white matter before arriving at the cerebral cortex for processing. 



Lesions occurring on white matter

Certain diseases and conditions cause lesions or tissue damage to the white matter of the brain.  Damage to the fatty encasement exposes nerve fibers, causing abnormal behavior of the nerves.  The most frequent reasons for the lesions are:  age, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Lyme disease and Epstein Barr infections.

White matter lesions on the brain are found during an MRI, usually as a result of symptoms indicating one of these conditions.  Because each of the conditions closely mimic the others, it is imperative that doctors specializing in diagnosing the conditions be consulted for the most accurate diagnosis and successful treatment.