Many studies have reported abnormal cerebellar volume in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and that this abnormal volume can change with age. In the present study, we used CERES, an automated and reliable quantitative analysis tool, and adopted a longitudinal design to examine developmental changes in the cerebellar lobular thickness in ASD and quantified the relationship between cerebellar thickness development and clinical symptoms. Nineteen individuals with ASD (16 males; age, 12.53 ± 2.34 years at baseline, interval: 2.33 years) and 14 typically developing controls (TD; 12 males; age, 13.50 ± 1.77 years at baseline, interval: 2.31 years) underwent T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging at two time points. To explore the relationship between cerebellar lobular thickness and the symptoms of ASD, the correlation of Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) score with lobular thickness data was calculated. The cerebellar lobule thickness decreased in the right Crus II and the Crus II asymmetry was reduced in individuals with ASD. The reduction in lobular thickness and the asymmetry in Crus II were associated with the severity of stereotyped behavior symptoms. Structural differences and behavioral correlations were concentrated in the right cerebellar Crus II. These results emphasize the importance of the potential functional effect of structural differences in cerebellar subregions on ASD and suggest that the changes of thickness in the right cerebellar Crus II are related to the core profile of ASD.
Keywords: age; autism; cerebellum; thickness.
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