, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 336-351
Date: 15 Jan 2011

Topography of Cerebellar Deficits in Humans

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Abstract

The cerebellum is a key-piece for information processing and is involved in numerous motor and nonmotor activities, thanks to the anatomical characteristics of the circuitry, the enormous computational capabilities and the high connectivity to other brain areas. Despite its uniform cytoarchitecture, cerebellar circuitry is segregated into functional zones. This functional parcellation is driven by the connectivity and the anatomo-functional heterogeneity of the numerous extra-cerebellar structures linked to the cerebellum, principally brain cortices, precerebellar nuclei and spinal cord. Major insights into cerebellar functions have been gained with a detailed analysis of the cerebellar outputs, with the evidence that fundamental aspects of cerebrocerebellar operations are the closed-loop circuit and the predictions of future states. Cerebellar diseases result in disturbances of accuracy of movements and lack of coordination. The cerebellar syndrome includes combinations of oculomotor disturbances, dysarthria and other speech deficits, ataxia of limbs, ataxia of stance and gait, as well as often more subtle cognitive/behavioral impairments. Our understanding of the corresponding anatomo-functional maps for the human cerebellum is continuously improving. We summarize the topography of the clinical deficits observed in cerebellar patients and the growing evidence of a regional subdivision into motor, sensory, sensorimotor, cognitive and affective domains. The recently described topographic dichotomy motor versus nonmotor cerebellum based upon anatomical, functional and neuropsychological studies is also discussed.