Scientific article
Open access

Understanding the relationship between cerebellar structure and social abilities

Published inMolecular autism, vol. 14, no. 1, 18
Publication date2023-05-15
First online date2023-05-15

Background: The cerebellum contains more than 50% of all neurons in the brain and is involved in a broad range of cognitive functions, including social communication and social cognition. Inconsistent atypicalities in the cerebellum have been reported in individuals with autism compared to controls suggesting the limits of categorical case control comparisons. Alternatively, investigating how clinical dimensions are related to neuroanatomical features, in line with the Research Domain Criteria approach, might be more relevant. We hypothesized that the volume of the "cognitive" lobules of the cerebellum would be associated with social difficulties.

Methods: We analyzed structural MRI data from a large pediatric and transdiagnostic sample (Healthy Brain Network). We performed cerebellar parcellation with a well-validated automated segmentation pipeline (CERES). We studied how social communication abilities-assessed with the social component of the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS)-were associated with the cerebellar structure, using linear mixed models and canonical correlation analysis.

Results: In 850 children and teenagers (mean age 10.8 ± 3 years; range 5-18 years), we found a significant association between the cerebellum, IQ and social communication performance in our canonical correlation model.

Limitations: Cerebellar parcellation relies on anatomical boundaries, which does not overlap with functional anatomy. The SRS was originally designed to identify social impairments associated with autism spectrum disorders.

Conclusion: Our results unravel a complex relationship between cerebellar structure, social performance and IQ and provide support for the involvement of the cerebellum in social and cognitive processes.

  • Autism
  • Cerebellum
  • MRI
  • Parcellation
  • Social communication
  • Volumetry
  • Adolescent
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Social Skills
  • Fondation Bettencourt Schueller -
Citation (ISO format)
ELANDALOUSSI, Yannis et al. Understanding the relationship between cerebellar structure and social abilities. In: Molecular autism, 2023, vol. 14, n° 1, p. 18. doi: 10.1186/s13229-023-00551-8
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ISSN of the journal2040-2392

Technical informations

Creation12/29/2023 3:00:44 PM
First validation05/27/2024 3:59:10 PM
Update time05/27/2024 3:59:10 PM
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