In addition to its traditional role in motor control, the cerebellum has been implicated in various cognitive and linguistic functions. Lesion, anatomic, and functional imaging studies indicate a link between left frontal language regions and the right cerebellum. To probe the specificity of this circuit, we examined the association between language-related lateralized activation of the frontal cortex with lateralized activation of the cerebellum. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was carried out during letter-cued word generation in 14 healthy subjects: 7 subjects displayed typical left-hemisphere and 7 subjects displayed atypical right-hemisphere language dominance. We found activation of the cerebellar hemisphere contralateral to the language-dominant cerebral hemisphere in each subject. The cerebellar activation was confined to the lateral posterior cerebellar hemisphere (lobule VI, VII B, Cr I, Cr II). This study demonstrates that crossed cerebral and cerebellar language dominance is a typical characteristic of brain organization. The functional significance of the reported activations can now be tested in patients with lesions of the lateral posterior cerebellum.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.