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Cerebellum. 2013 Oct;12(5):758-72. doi: 10.1007/s12311-013-0477-8.

A hypothetical universal model of cerebellar function: reconsideration of the current dogma.

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Psychobiology Research Unit, Sagol School of Neuroscience, School of Psychological Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, 128 Sharet Bldg, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel.


The cerebellum is commonly studied in the context of the classical eyeblink conditioning model, which attributes an adaptive motor function to cerebellar learning processes. This model of cerebellar function has quite a few shortcomings and may in fact be somewhat deficient in explaining the myriad functions attributed to the cerebellum, functions ranging from motor sequencing to emotion and cognition. The involvement of the cerebellum in these motor and non-motor functions has been demonstrated in both animals and humans in electrophysiological, behavioral, tracing, functional neuroimaging, and PET studies, as well as in clinical human case studies. A closer look at the cerebellum's evolutionary origin provides a clue to its underlying purpose as a tool which evolved to aid predation rather than as a tool for protection. Based upon this evidence, an alternative model of cerebellar function is proposed, one which might more comprehensively account both for the cerebellum's involvement in a myriad of motor, affective, and cognitive functions and for the relative simplicity and ubiquitous repetitiveness of its circuitry. This alternative model suggests that the cerebellum has the ability to detect coincidences of events, be they sensory, motor, affective, or cognitive in nature, and, after having learned to associate these, it can then trigger (or "mirror") these events after having temporally adjusted their onset based on positive/negative reinforcement. The model also provides for the cerebellum's direction of the proper and uninterrupted sequence of events resulting from this learning through the inhibition of efferent structures (as demonstrated in our lab).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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