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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2014 Aug;69(8):996-1003. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glt151. Epub 2013 Oct 29.

Association between cerebellar gray matter volumes, gait speed, and information-processing ability in older adults enrolled in the Health ABC study.

Author information

1
Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, nadkarnink@upmc.edu.
2
Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, and.
3
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
4
National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland.
5
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco.
6
Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The cerebellum plays an important role in mobility and cognition. However, it is unclear which regions of the cerebellum are associated with gait speed and information-processing ability in older adults without overt brain damage.

METHODS:

Cross-sectional associations between cerebellar gray matter volumes (GMV), gait speed, and information-processing ability were explored in 231 community-dwelling adults (mean age: 83 years, 48% black, 58% female). We measured gait speed on an automated walkway and information-processing ability on the Digit Symbol Substitution test (DSST). Total and regional cerebellar GMV was measured on 3T-magnetic resonance imaging. Lobar GMV of the cerebellum, obtained by an automated parcellation process, were aggregated based on the cognitive (lobules VI, VII, VIII and crus I, II), sensorimotor (lobules II, IV, V), and vestibular (lobules IX and X) functions ascribed to the cerebellar regions.

RESULTS:

Larger cerebellar GMV correlated with faster gait speed and superior DSST scores (both p < .001) independent of age, gender, atrophy, and small vessel disease. After adjusting for age, gender, and atrophy, larger cognitive cerebellar GMV correlated with both faster gait speed (p = .04) and higher DSST scores (p < .001), larger sensorimotor cerebellar GMV correlated significantly with DSST alone (p = .02), and the vestibular cerebellar GMV with neither. The association between cognitive cerebellar GMV and gait speed was no longer significant after adjusting for DSST score in the linear regression models.

CONCLUSIONS:

The relationship between gait speed and cerebellar GMV is influenced by information-processing ability, and this relationship is stronger in subregions ascribed to cognitive than vestibular or sensorimotor functions.

KEYWORDS:

Brain aging; Cognition; Gait; Imaging.

PMID:
24170673
PMCID:
PMC4095927
DOI:
10.1093/gerona/glt151
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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