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Neuroscience - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging

The Cerebellum Link to Neuroticism: A Volumetric MRI Association Study in Healthy Volunteers
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Author: Dennis J. L. G. Schutter et al.

by Dennis J. L. G. Schutter, P. C├ędric M. P. Koolschijn, Jiska S. Peper, Eveline A. Crone

Prior research suggests an association between reduced cerebellar volumes and symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with mood disorders. However, whether a smaller volume in itself reflects a neuroanatomical correlate for increased susceptibility to develop mood disorders remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between cerebellar volume and neurotic personality traits in a non-clinical subject sample. 3T Structural magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired, and trait depression and anxiety scales of the revised NEO personality inventory were assessed in thirty-eight healthy right-handed volunteers. Results showed that cerebellar volume corrected for total brain volume was inversely associated with depressive and anxiety-related personality traits. Cerebellar gray and white matter contributed equally to the observed associations. Our findings extend earlier clinical observations by showing that cerebellar volume covaries with neurotic personality traits in healthy volunteers. The results may point towards a possible role of the cerebellum in the vulnerability to experience negative affect. In conclusion, cerebellar volumes may constitute a clinico-neuroanatomical correlate for the development of depression- and anxiety-related symptoms.