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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Jul 13;85:23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.04.002. Epub 2018 Apr 6.

The cerebellum in fear and anxiety-related disorders.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria. Electronic address:


Fear and anxiety-related disorders are highly prevalent psychiatric conditions characterized by avoidant and fearful reactions towards specific stimuli or situations, which are disproportionate given the real threat such stimuli entail. These conditions comprise the most common mental disorder group. There are a high proportion of patients who fail to achieve remission and the presence of high relapse rates indicate the therapeutic options available are far from being fully efficient. Despite an increased understanding the neural circuits underlying fear and anxiety-related behaviors in the last decades, a factor that could be partially contributing to the lack of adequate therapies may be an insufficient understanding of the core features of the disorders and their associated neurobiology. Interestingly, the cerebellum shows connections with fear and anxiety-related brain areas and functional involvement in such processes, but explanations for its role in anxiety disorders are lacking. Therefore, the aims of this review are to provide an overview of the neural circuitry of fear and anxiety and its connections to the cerebellum, and of the animal studies that directly assess an involvement of the cerebellum in these processes. Then, the studies performed in patients suffering from anxiety disorders that explore the cerebellum will be discussed. Finally, we'll propose a function for the cerebellum in these disorders, which could guide future experimental approaches to the topic and lead to a better understanding of the neurobiology of anxiety-related disorders, ultimately helping to develop more effective treatments for these conditions.


Anticipation; Anxiety; Cerebellum; Fear; Prediction

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