Cerebellum and cognition in multiple sclerosis: the fall status matters

J Neurol. 2018 Apr;265(4):809-816. doi: 10.1007/s00415-018-8774-2. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


Cerebellar volume has been linked with cognitive performances in MS; however, the association in terms of fall status has never been compared. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to compare cognitive performance with cerebellar volume between MS fallers and non-fallers. The cross-sectional study included 140 PwMS (96 women). MRI volumetric analysis was based on the FreeSurfer image analysis suite. Volumes of the cerebellar gray and white matter were identified as the region of interest. Cognitive function included scores obtained from a computerized cognitive battery of tests. The sample was divided into fallers and non-fallers. MS fallers demonstrated a lower global cognitive performance and reduced gray and white matter cerebellar volumes compared to non-fallers. A significant association was found between total gray and white matter cerebellar volume and visual spatial subdomain (P value = 0.044 and 0.032, respectively) in the non-fallers group. The association remained significant after controlling for the total cranial volume and neurological disability (P value = 0.026 and 0.047, respectively). A relationship was found between the visual spatial score and the left gray matter cerebellum volume; R2 = 0.44, P value = 0.021. We believe that a unique relationship exists between the cerebellum structure and cognitive processing according to fall history in PwMS and should be considered when investigating the association between brain functioning and cognitive performances in MS.

Keywords: Brain volume; Cerebellum; Cognition; Fall; Multiple sclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Adult
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology