Volumetric reduction of cerebellar lobules associated with memory decline across the adult lifespan

Dong Cui, Li Zhang, Fenglian Zheng, Huiqin Wang, Qingjian Meng, Wen Lu, Zhipeng Liu, Tao Yin, Jianfeng Qiu

Abstract

Background: The human cerebellum plays an essential role in motor control, is involved in cognitive function and helps to regulate emotional responses. However, little is known about the relationship between cerebellar lobules and age-related memory decline. We aimed to investigate volume alterations in cerebellar lobules at different ages and assess their correlations with reduced memory recall abilities.
Methods: A sample of 275 individuals were divided into the following four groups: 20–35 years (young), 36–50 years (early-middle age), 51–65 years (late-middle age), and 66–89 years (old). Volumes of the cerebellar lobules were obtained using volBrain software. Analysis of covariance and post hoc analysis were used to analyze group differences in cerebellar lobular volumes, and multiple comparisons were performed using the Bonferroni method. Spearman correlation was used to investigate the relationship between lobular volumes and memory recall scores.
Results: In this study, we found that older adults had smaller cerebellar volumes than the other subjects. Volumetric decreases in size were noted in bilateral lobule VI and lobule crus I. Moreover, the volumes of bilateral lobule crus I, lobule VI, and right lobule IV were significantly associated with memory recall scores.
Conclusions: In the present study, we found that some lobules of the cerebellum appear more predisposed to age-related changes than other lobules. These findings provide further evidence that specific regions of the cerebellum could be used to assess the risk of memory decline across the adult lifespan.