Roles of the Cerebellum in Motor Preparation and Prediction of Timing

Neuroscience. 2021 May 10;462:220-234. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.04.039. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


The cerebellum is thought to have a variety of functions because it developed with the evolution of the cerebrum and connects with different areas in the frontoparietal cortices. Like neurons in the cerebral cortex, those in the cerebellum also exhibit strong activity during planning in addition to the execution of movements. However, their specific roles remain elusive. In this article, we review recent findings focusing on preparatory activities found in the primate deep cerebellar nuclei during tasks requiring deliberate motor control and temporal prediction. Neurons in the cerebellum are active during anti-saccade preparation and their inactivation impairs proactive inhibitory control for saccades. Experiments using a self-timing task show that there are mechanisms for tracking elapsed time and regulating trial-by-trial variation in timing, and that the cerebellum is involved in the latter. When predicting the timing of periodic events, the cerebellum provides more accurate temporal information than the striatum. During a recently developed synchronized eye movement task, cerebellar nuclear neurons exhibited periodic preparatory activity for predictive synchronization. In all cases, the cerebellum generated preparatory activity lasting for several hundred milliseconds. These signals may regulate neuronal activity in the cerebral cortex that adjusts movement timing and predicts the timing of rhythmic events.

Keywords: Eye movement; Nonhuman primate; Predictive synchronization; Proactive inhibition; Self-timing; Temporal prediction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum*
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Eye Movements
  • Neurons
  • Saccades*