Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex

Child Dev. Jan-Feb 2000;71(1):44-56. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00117.


Motor development and cognitive development may be fundamentally interrelated. Contrary to popular notions that motor development begins and ends early, whereas cognitive development begins and ends later, both motor and cognitive development display equally protracted developmental timetables. When cognitive development is perturbed, as in a neurodevelopmental disorder, motor development is often adversely affected. While it has long been known that the striatum functions as part of a circuit with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, it is suggested here that the same is true for the cerebellum and that the cerebellum may be important for cognitive as well as motor functions. Like prefrontal cortex, the cerebellum reaches maturity late. Many cognitive tasks that require prefrontal cortex also require the cerebellum. To make these points, evidence is summarized of the close co-activation of the neocerebellum and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in functional neuroimaging, of similarities in the cognitive sequelae of damage to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the neocerebellum, of motor deficits in "cognitive" developmental disorders, and of abnormalities in the cerebellum and in prefrontal cortex in the same developmental disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*