Consensus Paper: Cerebellum and Reward

Cerebellum. 2024 May 20. doi: 10.1007/s12311-024-01702-0. Online ahead of print.


Cerebellum is a key-structure for the modulation of motor, cognitive, social and affective functions, contributing to automatic behaviours through interactions with the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia and spinal cord. The predictive mechanisms used by the cerebellum cover not only sensorimotor functions but also reward-related tasks. Cerebellar circuits appear to encode temporal difference error and reward prediction error. From a chemical standpoint, cerebellar catecholamines modulate the rate of cerebellar-based cognitive learning, and mediate cerebellar contributions during complex behaviours. Reward processing and its associated emotions are tuned by the cerebellum which operates as a controller of adaptive homeostatic processes based on interoceptive and exteroceptive inputs. Lobules VI-VII/areas of the vermis are candidate regions for the cortico-subcortical signaling pathways associated with loss aversion and reward sensitivity, together with other nodes of the limbic circuitry. There is growing evidence that the cerebellum works as a hub of regional dysconnectivity across all mood states and that mental disorders involve the cerebellar circuitry, including mood and addiction disorders, and impaired eating behaviors where the cerebellum might be involved in longer time scales of prediction as compared to motor operations. Cerebellar patients exhibit aberrant social behaviour, showing aberrant impulsivity/compulsivity. The cerebellum is a master-piece of reward mechanisms, together with the striatum, ventral tegmental area (VTA) and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Critically, studies on reward processing reinforce our view that a fundamental role of the cerebellum is to construct internal models, perform predictions on the impact of future behaviour and compare what is predicted and what actually occurs.

Keywords: Addiction; Ataxias; Catecholamines; Cerebellum; Emotions; Mood; Predictions; Reward; Social interactions.

Publication types

  • Review