Lateralized cognitive deficits in children following cerebellar lesions.
Scott RB., Stoodley CJ., Anslow P., Paul C., Stein JF., Sugden EM., Mitchell CD.
The aim of this preliminary study was to examine the developing cognitive profiles of children with cerebellar tumours in a consecutive series of clinical patients. MRI and longitudinal intellectual profiles were obtained on seven children (two females, five males; mean age 3 years at diagnosis; mean age 7 years at first assessment). Tumours in three of the children were astrocytomas; of the remaining tumours, two were medulloblastomas, one low-grade glioma, and one ependymoma. In right-handed children, we observed an association between greater damage to right cerebellar structures and a plateauing in verbal and/or literacy skills. In contrast, greater damage to left cerebellar structures was associated with delayed or impaired non-verbal/spatial skills. Long-term cognitive development of the children studied tentatively supports a role for the cerebellum in learning/development. These findings suggest that lateralized cerebellar damage may selectively impair the development of cognitive functions subserved by the contralateral cerebral hemisphere and, in addition, that all children with cerebellar lesions in early childhood should routinely undergo long-term monitoring of their intellectual development.