The Cerebellum in Frontotemporal Dementia: a Meta-Analysis of Neuroimaging Studies

Neuropsychol Rev. 2019 Dec;29(4):450-464. doi: 10.1007/s11065-019-09414-7. Epub 2019 Aug 19.


Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder primarily affecting the frontal and/or temporal lobes. Three main subtypes have been recognized: behavioural-variant FTD (bvFTD), semantic dementia (SD), and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), each of which has a distinct clinical and cognitive profile. Although the role of the cerebellum in cognition is increasingly accepted, knowledge of cerebellar changes across neuroimaging modalities and their contribution to behavioural and cognitive changes in FTD syndromes is currently scant. We conducted an anatomical/activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis in 53 neuroimaging studies (structural MRI: 42; positron emission tomography: 6; functional MRI: 4; single-photon emission computed tomography: 1) to identify the patterns of cerebellar changes and their relations to profiles of behavioural and cognitive deficits in FTD syndromes. Overall, widespread bilateral cerebellar changes were found in FTD and notably the patterns were subtype specific. In bvFTD, ALE peaks were identified in the bilateral Crus, left lobule VI, right lobules VIIb and VIIIb. In SD, focal cerebellar changes were located in the left Crus I and lobule VI. A separate ALE meta-analysis on PNFA studies was not performed due to the limited number of studies available. In addition, the ALE analysis indicated that bilateral Crus I and Crus II were associated with behavioural disruption and cognitive dysfunction. This ALE meta-analysis provides the quantification of the location and extent of cerebellar changes across the main FTD syndromes, which in turn provides evidence of cerebellar contributions to behavioural and cognitive changes in FTD. These results bring new insights into the mechanisms mediating FTD symptomatology.

Keywords: Cerebellum; Cognition; Frontotemporal dementia; Functional imaging; Meta-analysis; Structural imaging.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia* / pathology
  • Frontotemporal Dementia* / physiopathology
  • Frontotemporal Dementia* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon