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April 1992

Age-Related Regional Differences in Cerebellar Vermis Observed In Vivo

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, Memphis State University (Dr Raz, and Messrs Torres, Spencer, and White), and the Diagnostic Imaging Center, Baptist Memorial Hospital-East (Dr Acker), Memphis, Tenn.

Arch Neurol. 1992;49(4):412-416. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530280106030

• We investigated age-related differences in the cerebellar vermis. The areas of five vermal regions of interest were estimated from digitized midsagittal magnetic resonance imaging scans of 29 healthy volunteers and 30 neurologically intact patients (aged 18 to 78 years) who were free of vestibular symptoms, seizures, psychosis, or alcoholism. The five regions of interest included the following: (1) lingula and centralis, (2) culmen, (3) declive, folium, and tuber, (4) pyramis, and (5) uvula and nodulus. The ventral pons was used as a control region. After covarying skull size, we found a significant age-related reduction in the total area of the cerebellar vermis. The area of the dorsal regions declined with age, whereas the ventral segments of the vermis—lingula-centralis and uvula-nodulus—showed no significant age-related shrinkage. Notably, the area of the most dorsomedial portion, the declive-folium-tuber, tended to be more strongly associated with age than other segments. The pontine area was unaffected by age. No sex differences were found in the area of the vermis or its subdivisions, but the ventral pontine area was larger in male subjects than in female subjects, even after adjustment for skull size. The mechanisms underlying the observed differences are unclear. It appears, however, that phylogenetically more recent vermal regions, which are late to mature and are endowed with more extensive cortical connections, are the most vulnerable to the effects of aging.

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