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Cerebellar Morphometry and Cognition in the Context of Chronic Alcohol Consumption and Cigarette Smoking.

  • Author(s): Cardenas, Valerie A;
  • Hough, Christina M;
  • Durazzo, Timothy C;
  • Meyerhoff, Dieter J
  • et al.


Cerebellar atrophy (especially involving the superior-anterior cerebellar vermis) is among the most salient and clinically significant effects of chronic hazardous alcohol consumption on brain structure. Smaller cerebellar volumes are also associated with chronic cigarette smoking. The present study investigated effects of both chronic alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking on cerebellar structure and its relation to performance on select cognitive/behavioral tasks.


Using T1-weighted Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs), the Cerebellar Analysis Tool Kit segmented the cerebellum into bilateral hemispheres and 3 vermis parcels from 4 participant groups: smoking (s) and nonsmoking (ns) abstinent alcohol-dependent treatment seekers (ALC) and controls (CON) (i.e., sALC, nsALC, sCON, and nsCON). Cognitive and behavioral data were also obtained.


We found detrimental effects of chronic drinking on all cerebellar structural measures in ALC participants, with largest reductions seen in vermis areas. Furthermore, both smoking groups had smaller volumes of cerebellar hemispheres but not vermis areas compared to their nonsmoking counterparts. In exploratory analyses, smaller cerebellar volumes were related to lower measures of intelligence. In sCON, but not sALC, greater smoking severity was related to smaller cerebellar volume and smaller superior-anterior vermis area. In sALC, greater abstinence duration was associated with larger cerebellar and superior-anterior vermis areas, suggesting some recovery with abstinence.


Our results show that both smoking and alcohol status are associated with smaller cerebellar structural measurements, with vermal areas more vulnerable to chronic alcohol consumption and less affected by chronic smoking. These morphometric cerebellar deficits were also associated with lower intelligence and related to duration of abstinence in sALC only.

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