Cerebellar volumes and language functions in school-aged children born very preterm

Lottie W. Stipdonk, Marlijne Boumeester, Kay J. Pieterman, Marie-Christine J. P. Franken, Joost van Rosmalen, Irwin K. Reiss, Jeroen Dudink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
Volumes of cerebellar posterior lobes have been associated with cognitive skills, such as language functioning. Children born very preterm (VPT) often have language problems. However, only total cerebellar volume has been associated with language functioning, with contradicting results. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether total cerebellar structures or specific posterior lobular structures are associated with language ability of school-aged VPT children.

Methods
This is a prospective cohort study of 42 school-aged VPT children without major handicaps. Structural MRI was performed and the cerebellum segmentation pipeline was used for segmentation of separate lobules. Narrative retelling assessment was performed and language content and language structure scores were extracted. Linear regression analyses were used to associate language scores with whole gray matter (GM) cerebellar volume and right Crus I+II GM volume.

Results
Whole cerebellar GM volume was not significantly associated with language content nor with language structure; however, right Crus I+II GM volume was significantly associated with language content (β = 0.192 (CI = 0.033, 0.351), p = 0.020).

Conclusions
GM volume of Crus I+II appears to be associated with language functions in school-aged VPT children without major handicaps, while whole cerebellar volume is not. This study showed the importance of studying cerebellar lobules separately, rather than whole cerebellar volume only, in relation to VPT children’s language functions.

Impact
GM volume of Crus I+II is associated with semantic language functions in school-aged very preterm children without overt brain injury, whereas whole cerebellar volume is not.

This study showed the importance of studying cerebellar lobules separately, rather than whole cerebellar volume only, in relation to very preterm children’s language functions.

This study might impact future research in very preterm children. Lobular structures rather than whole cerebellar structures should be the region of interest in relation to language functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-860
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Research
Volume90
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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