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The Cerebellum in Emotional Processing: Evidence from Human and Non-Human Animals

1 Division of Neurodegenerative Disorders, St. Boniface Hospital Research, R4050-351 Tache Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2H 2A6;
2 Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, A203 Chown Bldg., 753 McDermot Avenue, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 0T6;
3 Department of Psychology, P404 Duff Roblin Bldg, 190 Dysart Rd, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2;
4 Department of Biological Sciences, Biological Sciences Building, Faculty of Science, 50 Sifton Rd., University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2

Special Issues: What is the role of the cerebellum in emotional processing and behavior?

The notion that the cerebellum is a central regulator of motor function is undisputed. There exists, however, considerable literature to document a similarly vital role for the cerebellum in the regulation of various non-motor domains, including emotion. Research from numerous avenues of investigation (i.e., neurophysiological, behavioural, electrophysiological, imagining, lesion, and clinical studies) have documented the importance of the cerebellum, in particular, the vermis, in affective processing that appears preserved across species. The cerebellum possesses a distinct laminar arrangement and highly organized neuronal circuitry. Moreover, the cerebellum forms reciprocal connections with several brain regions implicated in diverse functional domains, including motor, sensory, and emotional processing. It has been argued that these unique neuroanatomical features afford the cerebellum with the capacity to integrate information about an organism, its environment, and its place within the environment such that it can respond in an appropriate, coordinated fashion, with such theories extending to the regulation of emotion. This review puts our current understanding of the cerebellum and its role in behaviour in historical perspective, presents an overview of the neuroanatomical and functional organization of the cerebellum, and reviews the literature describing the involvement of the cerebellum in emotional regulation in both humans and non-human animals. In summary, this review discusses the importance of the functional connectivity of the cerebellum with various brain regions in the ability of the cerebellum to effectively regulate emotional behaviour.
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Keywords cerebellum; emotion; non-motor; vermis; fear conditioning

Citation: Wanda M. Snow, Brenda M. Stoesz, Judy E. Anderson. The Cerebellum in Emotional Processing: Evidence from Human and Non-Human Animals. AIMS Neuroscience, 2014, 1(1): 96-119. doi: 10.3934/Neuroscience.2014.1.96


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