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Cerebello-cerebral connectivity in the developing brain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kay Pieterman, Dafnis Batalle, Jeroen Dudink, J-donald Tournier, Emer J. Hughes, Madeleine Barnett, Manon J. Benders, A. David Edwards, Freek E. Hoebeek, Serena J. Counsell

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain structure & function
Early online date29 Aug 2016
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2016

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Abstract

Disrupted cerebellar development and injury is associated with impairments in both motor and non-motor domains. Methods to non-invasively characterize cerebellar afferent and efferent connections during early development are lacking. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of delineating cortico-ponto-cerebellar (CPC) and cerebello-thalamo-cortical (CTC) white matter tracts during brain development using high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI). HARDI data were obtained in 24 infants born between 24+6 and 39 weeks gestational age (median 33+4 weeks) and scanned between 29+1 and 44 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA) (median 37+1 weeks). Probabilistic tractography of CPC and CTC fibers was performed using constrained spherical deconvolution. Connections between cerebellum and contralateral cerebral hemisphere were identified in all infants studied. Fractional anisotropy (FA) values of CTC and CPC pathways increased with increasing PMA at scan (p < 0.001). The supratentorial regions connecting to contralateral cerebellum in most subjects, irrespective of PMA at scan, included the precentral cortex, superior frontal cortex, supplementary motor area, insula, postcentral cortex, precuneus, and paracentral lobule. This study demonstrates the feasibility of assessing CTC and CPC white matter connectivity in vivo during the early stages of development. The ability to assess cerebellar connectivity during this critical developmental period may help improve our understanding of the role of the cerebellum in a wide range of neuromotor and neurocognitive disorders.

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