Cerebellum and auditory function: an ALE meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies

Hum Brain Mapp. 2005 May;25(1):118-28. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20137.


Over the past two decades neuroimaging data have accumulated showing that the cerebellum, traditionally viewed only as a motor structure, is also active in a wide variety of sensory and cognitive tasks. We have proposed that instead of explicit involvement in any particular motor, sensory, or cognitive task, the cerebellum performs a much more fundamental computation involving the active acquisition of sensory data. We carried out an activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analysis to determine whether neuroimaging results obtained during a wide range of auditory tasks support this proposal. Specifically, we analyzed the coordinates of 231 activation foci obtained in 15 different auditory studies selected through an extensive search of the positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) literature. The studies selected represent a wide variety of purely auditory tasks using highly controlled synthesized acoustic stimuli. The results clearly revealed that in addition to temporal auditory areas of cerebral cortex, specific regions in the cerebellum are activated consistently across studies regardless of the particular auditory task involved. In particular, one area in left lateral crus I area showed the greatest volume and ALE peak value among the extratemporal regions. A subanalysis was carried out that ruled out the specific association of this cerebellar cluster with attentional demand. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the cerebellum may play a role in purely sensory auditory processing, and are discussed in light of the broader idea of the cerebellum subserving a fundamental sensory function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*