Sensorimotor mapping of the human cerebellum: fMRI evidence of somatotopic organization

Hum Brain Mapp. 2001 Jun;13(2):55-73. doi: 10.1002/hbm.1025.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was employed to determine areas of activation in the cerebellar cortex in 46 human subjects during a series of motor tasks. To reduce the variance due to differences in individual anatomy, a specific transformational procedure for the cerebellum was introduced. The activation areas for movements of lips, tongue, hands, and feet were determined and found to be sharply confined to lobules and sublobules and their sagittal zones in the rostral and caudal spino-cerebellar cortex. There was a clear symmetry mirroring at the midline. The activation mapped as two distinct homunculoid representations. One, a more extended representation, was located upside down in the superior cerebellum, and a second one, doubled and smaller, in the inferior cerebellum. The two representations were remarkably similar to those proposed by Snider and Eldred [1951] five decades ago. In the upper representation, an intralimb somatotopy for the right elbow, wrist, and fingers was revealed. The maps seem to confirm earlier electrophysiological findings of sagittal zones in animals. They differ, however, from micromapping reports on fractured somatotopic maps in the cerebellar cortex of mammals. We assume that the representations that we observed are not solely the result of spatial integration of hemodynamic events underlying the fMRI method and may reflect integration of afferent peripheral and central information in the cerebellar cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Elbow / innervation
  • Elbow / physiology
  • Female
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Foot / innervation
  • Foot / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lip / innervation
  • Lip / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Tongue / innervation
  • Tongue / physiology
  • Wrist / innervation
  • Wrist / physiology