Cerebellar morphology in developmental dyslexia

Neuropsychologia. 2002;40(8):1285-92. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(01)00216-0.


Recent evidence has suggested cerebellar anomalies in developmental dyslexia. Therefore, we investigated cerebellar morphology in subjects with documented reading disabilities. We obtained T1-weighted magnetic resonance images in the coronal and sagittal planes from 11 males with prior histories of developmental dyslexia, and nine similarly-aged male controls. Proton magnetic resonance spectra (TE=136ms, TR=2.4s) were obtained bilaterally in the cerebellum. Phonological decoding skill was measured using non-word reading. Handedness was assessed using both the Annett questionnaire of hand preference and Annett's peg moving task. Cerebellar symmetry was observed in the dyslexics but there was significant asymmetry (right grey matter>left grey matter) in controls. The interpretation of these results depended whether a motor- or questionnaire-based method was used to determine handedness. The degree of cerebellar symmetry was correlated with the severity of dyslexics' phonological decoding deficit. Those with more symmetric cerebella made more errors on a nonsense word reading measure of phonological decoding ability. Left cerebellar metabolite ratios were shown to correlate significantly with the degree of cerebellar asymmetry (P<0.05) in controls. This relationship was absent in developmental dyslexics. Cerebellar morphology reflects the higher degree of symmetry found previously in the temporal and parietal cortex of dyslexics. The relationship of cerebellar asymmetry to phonological decoding ability and handedness, together with our previous finding of altered metabolite ratios in the cerebellum of dyslexics, lead us to suggest that there are alterations in the neurological organisation of the cerebellum which relate to phonological decoding skills, in addition to motor skills and handedness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis
  • Dyslexia / pathology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Phonetics
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology


  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Choline