Cerebellar contribution to spatial event processing: involvement in procedural and working memory components

Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Dec;14(12):2011-22. doi: 10.1046/j.0953-816x.2001.01819.x.


Spatial function is one of the cognitive functions altered in the presence of cerebellar lesions. We investigated the cerebellar contribution to the acquisition of spatial procedural and working memory components by means of a radial maze. To establish whether a cerebellar lesion would cause a deficit in solving the radial maze, a first experiment was carried out by using a full-baited maze procedure in different experimental groups, with or without cerebellar lesion and with or without pretraining. Non-pretrained hemicerebellectomized (HCbed) animals exhibited impaired performances in all (motor, spatial and procedural) task aspects. Pre-trained HCbed animals performed similarly to control animals in the task aspects linked to the processing of spatial and procedural factors. To distinguish procedural from working memory components, a forced-choice paradigm of the radial maze was used in the second experiment. Non-pretrained HCbed rats continued to make a lot of errors and show severe perseverative tendencies, already observed in the first experiment, supporting a specific cerebellar role in acquiring new behaviours and in modifying them in relation to the context. Interestingly, hindered from putting the acquired explorative patterns into action and compelled to use only working memory abilities, the pretrained HCbed group exhibited a dramatic worsening of performance. In conclusion, the present findings demonstrate that cerebellar damage induces a specific behaviour in radial maze tasks, characterized by an inflexible use of the procedures (if indeed any procedure was acquired before the lesion) and by a severe impairment in working memory processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / pathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Gait Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / pathology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Space Perception / physiology*