Contributions of studies on alcohol use disorders to understanding cerebellar function

Neuropsychol Rev. 2010 Sep;20(3):280-9. doi: 10.1007/s11065-010-9141-y. Epub 2010 Sep 1.


Neuropathological, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging studies of human alcoholism provide evidence for degradation of frontal, pontine, thalamic, and cerebellar brain sites and disturbed associated functions. Current studies using neuroimaging combined with examination of executive functions, traditionally considered the sole purview of the frontal lobes, have identified a role for the cerebellum serving as a compensatory processing adjunct to enable normal performance on challenging tasks tapping executive functions. This overview proposes that disruption of an executive frontocerebellar network is a major contributor to characteristic behaviors of alcoholism that, on the one hand, enable alcohol use disorders, and on the other hand, lead to compensation for dysfunctions in alcoholism traditionally considered frontally-based.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / pathology*
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Humans