The Theory and Neuroscience of Cerebellar Cognition

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2019 Jul 8;42:337-364. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-070918-050258. Epub 2019 Apr 2.


Cerebellar neuroscience has undergone a paradigm shift. The theories of the universal cerebellar transform and dysmetria of thought and the principles of organization of cerebral cortical connections, together with neuroanatomical, brain imaging, and clinical observations, have recontextualized the cerebellum as a critical node in the distributed neural circuits subserving behavior. The framework for cerebellar cognition stems from the identification of three cognitive representations in the posterior lobe, which are interconnected with cerebral association areas and distinct from the primary and secondary cerebellar sensorimotor representations linked with the spinal cord and cerebral motor areas. Lesions of the anterior lobe primary sensorimotor representations produce dysmetria of movement, the cerebellar motor syndrome. Lesions of the posterior lobe cognitive-emotional cerebellum produce dysmetria of thought and emotion, the cerebellar cognitive affective/Schmahmann syndrome. The notion that the cerebellum modulates thought and emotion in the same way that it modulates motor control advances the understanding of the mechanisms of cognition and opens new therapeutic opportunities in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry.

Keywords: ataxia; cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome; dysmetria of thought; functional topography; principles of organization; universal cerebellar transform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences* / methods