Functional topography of anger and aggression in the human cerebellum

Neuroimage. 2021 Feb 1;226:117582. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117582. Epub 2020 Nov 19.


New insights into the functional neuroanatomic correlates of emotions point toward the involvement of the cerebellum in anger and aggression. To identify cerebellar regions commonly activated in tasks examining the experience of anger and threat as well as exerting an aggressive response, two coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses reporting a total of 57 cerebellar activation foci from 819 participants were performed. For anger processing (18 studies), results showed significant clusters in the bilateral posterior cerebellum, overlapping with results from previous meta-analyses on emotion processing, and implying functional connectivity to cognitive, limbic, and social canonic networks in the cerebral cortex. By contrast, active aggression expression (10 studies) was associated with significant clusters in more anterior regions of the cerebellum, overlapping with cerebellar somatosensory and motor regions and displaying functional connectivity with the somatomotor and default mode network. This study not only strengthens the notion that the cerebellum is involved in emotion processing, but also provides the first quantitative evidence for distinct cerebellar functional activation patterns related to anger and aggression.

Keywords: Activation likelihood estimation; Aggression; Anger; Cerebellum; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Anger / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Default Mode Network
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology