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Behav Neurol. 2010;23(1-2):65-79. doi: 10.3233/BEN-2010-0268.

An fMRI study of intra-individual functional topography in the human cerebellum.

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Cognitive/Behavioral Neurology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 175 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Neuroimaging studies report cerebellar activation during both motor and non-motor paradigms, and suggest a functional topography within the cerebellum. Sensorimotor tasks activate the anterior lobe, parts of lobule VI, and lobule VIII, whereas higher-level tasks activate lobules VI and VII in the posterior lobe. To determine whether these activation patterns are evident at a single-subject level, we conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during five tasks investigating sensorimotor (finger tapping), language (verb generation), spatial (mental rotation), working memory (N-back), and emotional processing (viewing images from the International Affective Picture System). Finger tapping activated the ipsilateral anterior lobe (lobules IV-V) as well as lobules VI and VIII. Activation during verb generation was found in right lobules VII and VIIIA. Mental rotation activated left-lateralized clusters in lobules VII-VIIIA, VI-Crus I, and midline VIIAt. The N-back task showed bilateral activation in right lobules VI-Crus I and left lobules VIIB-VIIIA. Cerebellar activation was evident bilaterally in lobule VI while viewing arousing vs. neutral images. This fMRI study provides the first proof of principle demonstration that there is topographic organization of motor execution vs. cognitive/emotional domains within the cerebellum of a single individual, likely reflecting the anatomical specificity of cerebro-cerebellar circuits underlying different task domains. Inter-subject variability of motor and non-motor topography remains to be determined.

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