The developmental relationship between specific cognitive domains and grey matter in the cerebellum

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2017 Apr;24:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2016.12.001. Epub 2016 Dec 21.


There is growing evidence that the cerebellum is involved in cognition and cognitive development, yet little is known about the developmental relationship between cerebellar structure and cognitive subdomains in children. We used voxel-based morphometry to assess the relationship between cerebellar grey matter (GM) and language, reading, working memory, executive function, and processing speed in 110 individuals aged 8-17 years from the Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition, and Genetics (PING) Study. Further, we examined the effect of age on the relationships between cerebellar GM and cognition. Higher scores on vocabulary, reading, working memory, and set-shifting were associated with increased GM in the posterior cerebellum (lobules VI-IX), in regions which are typically engaged during cognitive tasks in healthy adults. For reading, working memory, and processing speed, the relationship between cerebellar GM and cognitive performance changed with age in specific cerebellar subregions. As in adults, posterior lobe cerebellar GM was associated with cognitive performance in a pediatric population, and this relationship mirrored the known developmental trajectory of posterior cerebellar GM. These findings provide further evidence that specific regions of the cerebellum support cognition and cognitive development, and suggest that the strength of this relationship depends on developmental stage.

Keywords: Cerebellum; Cognition; Developmental imaging; NIH toolbox; PING; Voxel based morphometry.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology*
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male