Chronic stroke results in significant downstream changes at connected cortical sites. However, less is known about the impact of cortical stroke on cerebellar structure. Here, we examined the relationship between chronic stroke, cerebellar volume, cerebellar symmetry, language impairment, and treatment trajectories in a large cohort (N = 249) of chronic left hemisphere (LH) stroke patients with aphasia, using a healthy aging cohort (N = 244) as control data. Cerebellar gray matter volume was significantly reduced in chronic LH stroke relative to healthy control brains. Within the chronic LH stroke group, we observed a robust relationship between cerebellar volume, lesion size, and days post-stroke. Notably, the extent of cerebellar atrophy in chronic LH patients, particularly in the contralesional (right) cerebellar gray matter, explained significant variability in post-stroke aphasia severity, as measured by the Western Aphasia Battery—Revised, above and beyond traditional considerations such as cortical lesion size, days post-stroke, and demographic measures (age, race, sex). In a subset of participants that took part in language treatment studies, greater cerebellar gray matter volume was associated with greater treatment gains. These data support the importance of considering both cerebellar volume and symmetry in models of post-stroke aphasia severity and recovery.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Handling Editor: Catherine Stoodley