From movement to thought: anatomic substrates of the cerebellar contribution to cognitive processing

Hum Brain Mapp. 1996;4(3):174-98. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0193(1996)4:3<174::AID-HBM3>3.0.CO;2-0.


The cerebellar contribution to cognitive operations and emotional behavior is critically dependent upon the existence of plausible anatomic substrates. This paper explores these anatomic substrates, namely, the incorporation of the associative and paralimbic cerebral areas into the cerebrocerebellar circuitry in nonhuman primates. Using the novel information that has emerged concerning this system, proposed rules are derived and specific hypotheses offered concerning cerebellar function and the relationship between cerebellum and nonmotor behavior, as follow. (1) The associative and paralimbic incorporation into the cerebrocerebellar circuit is the anatomic underpinning of the cerebellar contribution to cognition and emotion. (2) There is topographic organization of cognitive and behavioral functions within the cerebellum. The archicerebellum, vermis, and fastigial nucleus are principally concerned with affective and autonomic regulation and emotionally relevant memory. The cerebellar hemispheres and dentate nucleus are concerned with executive, visual-spatial, language, and other mnemonic functions. (3) The convergence of inputs from multiple associative cerebral regions to common areas within the cerebellum facilitates cerebellar regulation of supramodal functions. (4) The cerebellar contribution to cognition is one of modulation rather than generation. Dysmetria of (or ataxic) thought and emotion are the clinical manifestations of a cerebellar lesion in the cognitive domain. (5) The cerebellum performs the same computations for associative and paralimbic functions as it does for the sensorimotor system. These proposed rules and the general and specific hypotheses offered in this paper are testable using functional neuroimaging techniques. Neuroanatomy and functional neuroimaging may thus be mutually advantageous in predicting and explaining new concepts of cerebellar function.