The Cerebellum on Cocaine

Front Syst Neurosci. 2020 Oct 21:14:586574. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2020.586574. eCollection 2020.


The traditional cerebellum's role has been linked to the high computational demands for sensorimotor control. However, several findings have pointed to its involvement in executive and emotional functions in the last decades. First in 2009 and then, in 2016, we raised why we should consider the cerebellum when thinking about drug addiction. A decade later, mounting evidence strongly suggests the cerebellar involvement in this disorder. Nevertheless, direct evidence is still partial and related mainly to drug-induced reward memory, but recent results about cerebellar functions may provide new insights into its role in addiction. The present review does not intend to be a compelling revision on available findings, as we did in the two previous reviews. This minireview focuses on specific findings of the cerebellum's role in drug-related reward memories and the way ahead for future research. The results discussed here provide grounds for involving the cerebellar cortex's apical region in regulating behavior driven by drug-cue associations. They also suggest that the cerebellar cortex dysfunction may facilitate drug-induced learning by increasing glutamatergic output from the deep cerebellar nucleus (DCN) to the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and neural activity in its projecting areas.

Keywords: cerebellum; drug addiction; goal-directed behavior; habit; prefrontal cortex; striatum; ventral tegmental area.

Publication types

  • Review