Characterising the long-term language impairments of children following cerebellar tumour surgery by extracting psycholinguistic properties from spontaneous language

Cheyenne Svaldi*, Philippe Paquier, Stefanie Keulen, Henrieke van Elp, Coriene Catsman-Berrevoets, Annet Kingma, Roel Jonkers, Saskia Kohnen, Vânia de Aguiar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Following cerebellar tumour surgery, children may suffer impairments of spontaneous language. Yet, the language processing deficits underlying these impairments are poorly understood. This study is the first to try to identify these deficits for four levels of language processing in cerebellar tumour survivors. The spontaneous language of twelve patients who underwent cerebellar tumour surgery (age range 3–24 years) was compared against his or her controls using individual case statistics. A distinction was made between patients who experienced postoperative cerebellar mutism syndrome (pCMS) and those who did not. Time since surgery ranged between 11 months and 12;3 years. In order to identify the impaired language processing levels at each processing level (i.e., lexical, semantic, phonological and/or morphosyntactic) nouns and verbs produced in the spontaneous language samples were rated for psycholinguistic variables (e.g., concreteness). Standard spontaneous language measures (e.g., type-token ratio) were calculated as well. First, inter-individual heterogeneity was observed in the spontaneous language outcomes in both groups. Nine out of twelve patients showed language processing deficits three of whom were diagnosed with pCMS. Results implied impairments across all levels of language processing. In the pCMS-group, the impairments observed were predominantly morphosyntactic and semantic, but the variability in nature of the spontaneous language impairments was larger in the non-pCMS-group. Patients treated with cerebellar tumour surgery may show long-term spontaneous language impairments irrespective of a previous pCMS diagnosis. Individualised and comprehensive postoperative language assessments seem necessary, given the inter-individual heterogeneity in the language outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523–544
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Early online date15 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • cerebellum
  • posterior fossa surgery
  • postoperative cerebellar mutism syndrome
  • spontaneous language
  • word properties


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