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Front Cell Neurosci. 2018 Oct 1;12:331. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00331. eCollection 2018.

Prominent Changes in Cerebro-Cerebellar Functional Connectivity During Continuous Cognitive Processing.

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NMR Research Unit, Department of Neuroinflammation, Queen Square MS Centre, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
Brain Connectivity Center, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.
Blackheath Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, London, United Kingdom.
NMR Research Unit, Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, Queen Square MS Centre, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
Brain MRI 3T Center, Neuroradiology Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.
Department of Physics, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
Brain MRI 3T Center, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.


While task-dependent responses of specific brain areas during cognitive tasks are well established, much less is known about the changes occurring in resting state networks (RSNs) in relation to continuous cognitive processing. In particular, the functional involvement of cerebro-cerebellar loops connecting the posterior cerebellum to associative cortices, remains unclear. In this study, 22 healthy volunteers underwent a multi-session functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) protocol composed of four consecutive 8-min resting state fMRI (rs-fMRI) scans. After a first control scan, participants listened to a narrated story for the entire duration of the second rs-fMRI scan; two further rs-fMRI scans followed the end of story listening. The story plot was purposely designed to stimulate specific cognitive processes that are known to involve the cerebro-cerebellar loops. Almost all of the identified 15 RSNs showed changes in functional connectivity (FC) during and for several minutes after the story. The FC changes mainly occurred in the frontal and prefrontal cortices and in the posterior cerebellum, especially in Crus I-II and lobule VI. The FC changes occurred in cerebellar clusters belonging to different RSNs, including the cerebellar network (CBLN), sensory networks (lateral visual network, LVN; medial visual network, MVN) and cognitive networks (default mode network, DMN; executive control network, ECN; right and left ventral attention networks, RVAN and LVAN; salience network, SN; language network, LN; and working memory network, WMN). Interestingly, a k-means analysis of FC changes revealed clustering of FCN, ECN, and WMN, which are all involved in working memory functions, CBLN, DMN, and SN, which play a key-role in attention switching, and RSNs involved in visual imagery. These results show that the cerebellum is deeply entrained in well-structured network clusters, which reflect multiple aspects of cognitive processing, during and beyond the conclusion of auditory stimulation.


cerebellum; cognition; functional connectivity; resting state fMRI; resting state networks

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