INTRODUCTION: Frontal lobe atrophy is implicated in patterns of age-related cognitive decline. However, other brain areas, including the cerebellum, support the work of the frontal lobes and are also sensitive to the effects of ageing. A relationship between cerebellar brain volume and cognitive function in older adults is reported, but no study has separated variance associated with cerebellar gray matter volume and cerebellar white matter volume; and no study has examined whether or not brain volume in the cerebellum is related to cognitive function in older adults after statistical control for frontal lobe volume of gray and white matter. METHOD: We used voxel based morphometry (VBM) and structural equation modelling (SEM) to analyse relations between general cognitive ability (G) and volume of GM and WM in frontal areas and cerebellum in a sample of 228 older adults (121 males and 107 females). RESULTS: Results indicate that GM volume in the cerebellum predicts G, even when total intracranial volume (TICV) and GM gray and WM volumes in frontal lobes are statistically controlled. However, results differ for males and females, with males showing a stronger relationship between brain volume in the cerebellum and G. CONCLUSIONS: Results are discussed in light of neurological models of cognitive ageing and the significance of the cerebellum in models of cognitive functioning.
- frontal lobes