The classic anterior opercular syndrome of Foix-Chavany-Marie presents with loss of voluntary facial, pharyngeal, lingual, and mastication movements, with preservation of emotional and automatic movements. Most commonly, sequential strokes affecting bilateral opercula cause this syndrome. The inverse clinical presentation, with selective loss of emotional facial movements, has only rarely been reported, and is less well-localized.
We report a case of selective loss of emotional facial movements which resulted from bilateral acute infarcts. No etiology was discovered, and the syndrome was reversible.
The available literature, and findings in this case, suggest that voluntary and automatic facial movements have distinct pathways, and damage to the insula bilaterally may lead to the selective loss of emotional facial movements. The clinical presentation of this inverse automatic/voluntary dissocation needs to be recognized as a rare syndrome with bilateral localization, so that patients at higher risk of further stroke can quickly be identified.