Intact development of cerebellar connectivity is essential for healthy neuromotor and neurocognitive development. To date, limited knowledge about the microstructural properties of the cerebellar peduncles, the major white matter tracts of the cerebellum, is available for children and adolescents. Such information would be useful as a comparison for studies of normal development, clinical conditions, or associations of cerebellar structures with cognitive and motor functions. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the variability in diffusion measures of the cerebellar peduncles within individuals and within a normative sample of healthy children. Participants were 19 healthy children and adolescents, aged 9–17 years, mean age 13.0 ± 2.3. We analyzed diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) data with deterministic tractography. We generated tract profiles for each of the cerebellar peduncles by extracting four diffusion properties (fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean, radial, and axial diffusivity) at 30 equidistant points along each tract. We were able to identify the middle cerebellar peduncle and the bilateral inferior and superior cerebellar peduncles in all participants. The results showed that within each of the peduncles, the diffusion properties varied along the trajectory of the tracts. However, the tracts showed consistent patterns of variation across individuals; the coefficient of variation for FA across individual profiles was low (≤20 %) for each tract. We observed no systematic variation of the diffusion properties with age. These cerebellar tract profiles of the cerebellar peduncles can serve as a reference for future studies of children across the age range and for children and adolescents with clinical conditions that affect the cerebellum.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work has been supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, NICHD grants (RO1-HD69162, RO1-HD46500), and the Clinical and Translational Science Award 1UL1 RR025744 for the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Education and Research (Spectrum) from the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health. This work was also supported by a grant to Dr. Leitner from the Feldman Family Foundation Grant. Dr. Ben-Shachar is supported by the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation, Grant No. 51/11. We thank the children and families who participated in our study; Jason D. Yeatman, Robert Dougherty, and Brian Wandell for helpful suggestions regarding the analyses; and the developmental-behavioral pediatrics research group for discussions of the results and interpretations.
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
- Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI)
- Premature birth
- White matter