Social cognition and the cerebellum: A meta-analytic connectivity analysis

Hum Brain Mapp. 2015 Dec;36(12):5137-54. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23002. Epub 2015 Sep 30.


This meta-analytic connectivity modeling (MACM) study explores the functional connectivity of the cerebellum with the cerebrum in social cognitive processes. In a recent meta-analysis, Van Overwalle, Baetens, Mariën, and Vandekerckhove (2014) documented that the cerebellum is implicated in social processes of "body" reading (mirroring; e.g., understanding other persons' intentions from observing their movements) and "mind" reading (mentalizing, e.g., inferring other persons' beliefs, intentions or personality traits, reconstructing persons' past, future, or hypothetical events). In a recent functional connectivity study, Buckner et al. (2011) offered a novel parcellation of cerebellar topography that substantially overlaps with the cerebellar meta-analytic findings of Van Overwalle et al. (2014). This overlap suggests that the involvement of the cerebellum in social reasoning depends on its functional connectivity with the cerebrum. To test this hypothesis, we explored the meta-analytic co-activations as indices of functional connectivity between the cerebellum and the cerebrum during social cognition. The MACM results confirm substantial and distinct connectivity with respect to the functions of (a) action understanding ("body" reading) and (b) mentalizing ("mind" reading). The consistent and strong connectivity findings of this analysis suggest that cerebellar activity during social judgments reflects distinct mirroring and mentalizing functionality, and that these cerebellar functions are connected with corresponding functional networks in the cerebrum.

Keywords: cerebellum; functional connectivity; functional neuroimaging; meta-analysis; social cognition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum / blood supply
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Pathways / blood supply
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*