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Cerebellar neurocognition: Insights into the bottom of the brain

Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2008.05.013
  • Review
  • Cerebellum
  • Cognition
  • Behavior
  • Affective Regulation
  • Biology
  • Law
  • Psychology


Abstract The traditional view on the core functions of the cerebellum consists of the regulation of motor coordination, balance and motor speech. However, during the past decades results from neuroanatomical, neuroimaging and clinical studies have substantially extended the functional role of the cerebellum to cognitive and affective regulation. Neuroanatomical studies convincingly showed cerebellar connectivity with associative areas of the cerebral cortex involved in higher cognitive functioning, while functional neuroimaging provided evidence of cerebellar activation during a variety of cognitive tasks. In addition, more systematic neuropsychological research performed in patients with cerebellar lesions and the development of more sensitive neuropsychological tests allowed clinicians to identify significant cognitive and affective disturbances following cerebellar damage. In this review, an overview is presented of the cerebellar role in a variety of cognitive processes, such as executive functioning, memory, learning, attention, visuo-spatial regulation, language and behavioral-affective modulation. In addition, recent evidence with regard to cerebellar induced clinical entities such as the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome (CCAS) and the posterior fossa syndrome (PFS), will be discussed. Although extensive research has substantially broadened the insights in the cognitive and affective role of the cerebellum, the precise nature of the cerebellar contribution to cognitive and affective regulation is not yet clear. In this review experimental and clinical data will be discussed that substantiate the presumed neurobiological mechanisms underlying the cognitive and affective modulatory role of the cerebellum.

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