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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 23 (2010), Issue 1-2, Pages 81-100
http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/BEN-2010-0271

How Consistent are Cognitive Impairments in Patients with Cerebellar Disorders?

Dagmar Timmann1 and Irene Daum2

1Department of Neurology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
2Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Neuropsychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Received 12 August 2010; Accepted 12 August 2010

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Many human lesion und functional brain imaging studies suggest involvement of the cerebellum in cognitive functions. However, negative and inconsistent findings are rarely discussed. It is still an open question as to which areas of cognition the cerebellum contributes, as well as how, and to what extent. Frequently cited earlier findings in one area of cognition have been challenged in more recent studies, that is the cerebellum may not be directly involved in attention. Furthermore, disorders in patients with acquired cerebellar disease are frequently mild and less severe compared to lesions of the corresponding areas of the cerebral cortex. Patients with cerebellar disease often perform within the normal range of neuropsychological test norms. This pattern is illustrated based on general intelligence and verbal working memory, which have been assessed by a large number of authors using comparable tests. Findings, however, appear to be more pronounced in individual cases with acute onset cerebellar disorders and in children, in particular with congenital disease. The review suggests that the inconsistencies in cognitive impairments may offer clues as to the nature of cerebellar cognitive involvement.