Cerebellar engagement in the attachment behavioral system

Sci Rep. 2022 Aug 9;12(1):13571. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-17722-x.


Brain structural bases of individual differences in attachment are not yet fully clarified. Given the evidence of relevant cerebellar contribution to cognitive, affective, and social functions, the present research was aimed at investigating potential associations between attachment dimensions (through the Attachment Style Questionnaire, ASQ) and cerebellar macro- and micro-structural measures (Volumetric and Diffusion Tensor Imaging data). In a sample of 79 healthy subjects, cerebellar and neocortical volumetric data were correlated with ASQ scores at the voxel level within specific Regions Of Interest. Also, correlations between ASQ scores and age, years of education, anxiety and depression levels were performed to control for the effects of sociodemographic and psychological variables on neuroimaging results. Positive associations between scores of the Preoccupation with Relationships (ASQ subscale associated to insecure/anxious attachment) and cortical volume were found in the cerebellum (right lobule VI and left Crus 2) and neocortex (right medial OrbitoFrontal Cortex, OFC) regions. Cerebellar contribution to the attachment behavioral system reflects the more general cerebellar engagement in the regulation of emotional and social behaviors. Cerebellar properties of timing, prediction, and learning well integrate with OFC processing, supporting the regulation of attachment experiences. Cerebellar areas might be rightfully included in the attachment behavioral system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum* / diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Surveys and Questionnaires