The lateralized linguistic cerebellum: a review and a new hypothesis

Brain Lang. 2001 Dec;79(3):580-600. doi: 10.1006/brln.2001.2569.


During the past 2 decades the collaboration across disciplines and the methodologic and conceptual advances of contemporary neuroscience have brought about a substantial modification of the traditional view of the cerebellum as a mere coordinator of autonomic and somatic motor functions. Growing insights in the neuroanatomy of the cerebellum and its interconnections, evidence from functional neuroimaging and neurophysiological research, and advancements in clinical and experimental neuropsychology have established the view that the cerebellum participates in a much wider range of functions than conventionally accepted. This increase of insight has brought to the fore that the cerebellum modulates cognitive functioning of at least those parts of the brain to which it is reciprocally connected. This article reviews the recently acknowledged role of the cerebellum in cognition and addresses in more detail experimental and clinical data disclosing the modulatory role of the cerebellum in various non-motor language processes such as lexical retrieval, syntax, and language dynamics. In agreement with the findings indicating a topographical organization of the cerebellar structures involved in language pathology we advance the concept of a "lateralized linguistic cerebellum." In our view crossed cerebral diaschisis processes, reflecting a functional depression of supratentorial language areas due to reduced input via cerebellocortical pathways, might represent the relevant pathomechanism for linguistic deficits associated with cerebellar pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / diagnosis
  • Aphasia / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Linguistics*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Speech / physiology
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Verbal Behavior