Fast and efficient visuotemporal attention requires the cerebellum

Neuropsychologia. 2007 Oct 1;45(13):3068-74. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.05.018. Epub 2007 Jun 13.


The presence, and nature, of any role of the cerebellum in complex, non-motor behaviors is only beginning to be uncovered. We investigated the non-spatial temporal dynamics of attention in 11 patients with chronic focal lesions to the cerebellum using a rapid serial visual presentation task known as the attentional blink paradigm. In this task two targets are embedded in a letter stream presented at central fixation for identification and the delay between the targets is manipulated. Patients demonstrated an unequivocal disturbance in rapid visual attention as indicated by an increased magnitude of the attentional blink (i.e., more impaired at detecting target 2 when presented in close contiguity to target 1) compared to 13 healthy controls. The attentional blink effect was not significantly protracted in our patients, suggesting a time-limited deficit in resource allocation during temporally demanding stimulus processing conditions. Recovery rate from the attentional blink was the same for our patients and controls implying intact selective attention following cerebellar damage. Because of the experimental design, the results of the present study could not be accounted for by motor dysfunction or saccadic dysmetria. These data provide evidence implicating the cerebellum as a critical node in the neuroanatomical network underlying visuotemporal attention and provide further evidence for the role of the cerebellum in non-motor behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Attentional Blink / physiology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebellar Diseases / surgery
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / surgery
  • Field Dependence-Independence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*