Toward a unified analysis of cerebellum maturation and aging across the entire lifespan: A MRI analysis

Hum Brain Mapp. 2021 Apr 1;42(5):1287-1303. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25293. Epub 2021 Jan 1.


Previous literature about the structural characterization of the human cerebellum is related to the context of a specific pathology or focused in a restricted age range. In fact, studies about the cerebellum maturation across the lifespan are scarce and most of them considered the cerebellum as a whole without investigating each lobule. This lack of study can be explained by the lack of both accurate segmentation methods and data availability. Fortunately, during the last years, several cerebellum segmentation methods have been developed and many databases comprising subjects of different ages have been made publically available. This fact opens an opportunity window to obtain a more extensive analysis of the cerebellum maturation and aging. In this study, we have used a recent state-of-the-art cerebellum segmentation method called CERES and a large data set (N = 2,831 images) from healthy controls covering the entire lifespan to provide a model for 12 cerebellum structures (i.e., lobules I-II, III, IV, VI, Crus I, Crus II, VIIB, VIIIA, VIIIB, IX, and X). We found that lobules have generally an evolution that follows a trajectory composed by a fast growth and a slow degeneration having sometimes a plateau for absolute volumes, and a decreasing tendency (faster in early ages) for normalized volumes. Special consideration is dedicated to Crus II, where slow degeneration appears to stabilize in elder ages for absolute volumes, and to lobule X, which does not present any fast growth during childhood in absolute volumes and shows a slow growth for normalized volumes.

Keywords: MRI segmentation; aging; cerebellum trajectory; lifespan; maturation; patch-based processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebellum* / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebellum* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum* / growth & development
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gray Matter* / anatomy & histology
  • Gray Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • Gray Matter* / growth & development
  • Human Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • White Matter* / anatomy & histology
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter* / growth & development
  • Young Adult