Scaling of neural responses to visual and auditory motion in the human cerebellum

Oliver Baumann, Jason B Mattingley

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54 Citations (Scopus)
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The human cerebellum contains approximately half of all the neurons within the cerebrum, yet most experimental work in human neuroscience over the last century has focused exclusively on the structure and functions of the forebrain. The cerebellum has an undisputed role in a range of motor functions (Thach et al., 1992), but its potential contributions to sensory and cognitive processes are widely debated (Stoodley and Schmahmann, 2009). Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to test the hypothesis that the human cerebellum is involved in the acquisition of auditory and visual sensory data. We monitored neural activity within the cerebellum while participants engaged in a task that required them to discriminate the direction of a visual or auditory motion signal in noise. We identified a distinct set of cerebellar regions that were differentially activated for visual stimuli (vermal lobule VI and right-hemispheric lobule X) and auditory stimuli (right-hemispheric lobules VIIIA and VIIIB and hemispheric lobule VI bilaterally). In addition, we identified a region in left crus I in which activity correlated significantly with increases in the perceptual demands of the task (i.e., with decreasing signal strength), for both auditory and visual stimuli. Our results support suggestions of a role for the cerebellum in the processing of auditory and visual motion and suggest that parts of cerebellar cortex are concerned with tracking movements of objects around the animal, rather than with controlling movements of the animal itself (Paulin, 1993).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4489-95
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


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