Cerebellum, language, and cognition in autism and specific language impairment.
We performed cerebellum segmentation and parcellation on magnetic resonance images from right-handed boys, aged 6-13 years, including 22 boys with autism [16 with language impairment (ALI)], 9 boys with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), and 11 normal controls. Language-impaired groups had reversed asymmetry relative to unimpaired groups in posterior-lateral cerebellar lobule VIIIA (right side larger in unimpaired groups, left side larger in ALI and SLI), contralateral to previous findings in inferior frontal cortex language areas. Lobule VIIA Crus I was smaller in SLI than in ALI. Vermis volume, particularly anterior I-V, was decreased in language-impaired groups. Language performance test scores correlated with lobule VIIIA asymmetry and with anterior vermis volume. These findings suggest ALI and SLI subjects show abnormalities in neurodevelopment of fronto-corticocerebellar circuits that manage motor control and the processing of language, cognition, working memory, and attention.