Functional topography in the human cerebellum: a meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies

Neuroimage. 2009 Jan 15;44(2):489-501. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.08.039. Epub 2008 Sep 16.


Clinical, experimental and neuroimaging studies indicate that the cerebellum is involved in neural processes beyond the motor domain. Cerebellar somatotopy has been shown for motor control, but topographic organization of higher-order functions has not yet been established. To determine whether existing literature supports the hypothesis of functional topography in the human cerebellum, we conducted an activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies reporting cerebellar activation in selected task categories: motor (n=7 studies), somatosensory (n=2), language (n=11), verbal working memory (n=8), spatial (n=8), executive function (n=8) and emotional processing (n=9). In agreement with previous investigations, sensorimotor tasks activated anterior lobe (lobule V) and adjacent lobule VI, with additional foci in lobule VIII. Motor activation was in VIIIA/B; somatosensory activation was confined to VIIIB. The posterior lobe was involved in higher-level tasks. ALE peaks were identified in lobule VI and Crus I for language and verbal working memory; lobule VI for spatial tasks; lobules VI, Crus I and VIIB for executive functions; and lobules VI, Crus I and medial VII for emotional processing. Language was heavily right-lateralized and spatial peaks left-lateralized, reflecting crossed cerebro-cerebellar projections. Language and executive tasks activated regions of Crus I and lobule VII proposed to be involved in prefrontal-cerebellar loops. Emotional processing involved vermal lobule VII, implicated in cerebellar-limbic circuitry. These data provide support for an anterior sensorimotor vs. posterior cognitive/emotional dichotomy in the human cerebellum. Prospective studies of multiple domains within single individuals are necessary to better elucidate neurobehavioral structure-function correlations in the cerebellar posterior lobe.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuroradiography / methods