Cerebellar contributions to speech production and speech perception: psycholinguistic and neurobiological perspectives

Trends Neurosci. 2008 Jun;31(6):265-72. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2008.02.011. Epub 2008 May 9.


Articulate speech represents a unique trait of our species. Besides other structures, the cerebellum pertains to the brain network engaged in spoken language production. Data from different sources point at a dual role of this organ within the verbal domain: (i) the cerebellum appears to subserve the online sequencing of syllables into fast, smooth and rhythmically organized larger utterances, and (ii) furthermore, the cerebellum seems to participate in the temporal organization of internal speech, that is, a prearticulatory verbal code. Impaired prearticulatory verbal coding mechanisms could explain at least some of the perceptual and cognitive deficits observed in cerebellar disorders. Recent genetic studies indicate that distinct mutations of a specific regulatory gene (FOXP2) promoted the emergence of articulate speech during the course of hominid evolution. Conceivably, structural changes of the expressed FOXP2 protein supported the 'vocal elaboration' of phylogenetically older brain networks engaged in upper limb motor control, such as the cerebro-cerebellar loops.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurobiology*
  • Psycholinguistics*
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*