Clinical and neuroimaging data indicate a cerebellar contribution to emotional processing, which may account for affective-behavioral disturbances in patients with cerebellar lesions. We studied the neurophysiology of cerebellar involvement in recognition of emotional facial expression. Participants comprised eight patients with discrete ischemic cerebellar lesions and eight control patients without any cerebrovascular stroke. Event-related potentials (ERP) were used to measure responses to faces from the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces Database (KDEF), interspersed in a stream of images with salient contents. Images of faces augmented N170 in both groups, but increased late positive potential (LPP) only in control patients without brain lesions. Dipole analysis revealed altered activation patterns for negative emotions in patients with cerebellar lesions, including activation of the left inferior prefrontal area to images of faces showing fear, contralateral to controls. Correlation analysis indicated that lesions of cerebellar area Crus I contribute to ERP deviations. Overall, our results implicate the cerebellum in integrating emotional information at different higher order stages, suggesting distinct cerebellar contributions to the proposed large-scale cerebral network of emotional face recognition.
Keywords: Cerebellum; ERP; Emotional facial expressions; Prefrontal cortex.
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