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The Role of Cerebellar Volume in Cognition in the General Elderly Population

Hoogendam, Yoo Young MSc*,†; van der Geest, Jos N. PhD; Niessen, Wiro J. PhD†,§,∥; van der Lugt, Aad MD, PhD; Hofman, Albert MD, PhD*; Vernooij, Meike W. MD, PhD*,†; Ikram, Mohammad A. MD, PhD*,†,¶

Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders: October-December 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 352–357
doi: 10.1097/WAD.0000000000000024
Original Articles

Background: It is unknown whether the cerebellum affects cognitive function in an aging community-dwelling population. In a population-based study on 3745 nondemented individuals aged 45 years and above, we investigated the relationship between cerebellar volume and cognitive function.

Methods: Brain volumes were obtained using automatic tissue segmentation of magnetic resonance imaging scans. Cognitive functioning was assessed using MMSE and cognitive compound scores of global cognition, executive function, information processing speed, memory, and motor speed. Linear regression modeling was used to study the associations between cerebellar volumes and cognitive measures, independent of cerebral volumes.

Results: We found a relationship between larger cerebellar volume and better global cognition, executive function, information processing speed, and motor speed. After adjustment for cerebral volume, only cerebellar gray matter volume remained borderline significantly associated with global cognition and information processing speed. After Bonferroni correction, the few associations found between cerebellar volume and cognition disappeared.

Conclusions: We only found a minor relationship between larger cerebellar volume and better cognition in healthy older adults, which further attenuated after correcting for cerebral volume. Our findings support the notion that cerebellar volume has an influence on cognition in aging, but that it is not the major leading structure.

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Departments of *Epidemiology



§Medical Informatics

Neurology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam

Faculty of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

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The Rotterdam Scan Study was financially supported by the Health Research and Development Council (ZonMW) and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) (grants 918-46-615, 904-61-096, 904-61-133).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Mohammad A. Ikram, MD, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands (e-mail:

Received May 18, 2013

Accepted January 31, 2014

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.