The coordination of the direction of selective attention is an adaptive function that may be one of the many anticipatory tools under cerebellar control. This chapter presents neurobehavioral, neurophysiological, and neuroimaging data to support our hypothesis that the cerebellum plays a role in attentional functions. We discuss the idea that the cerebellum is a master computational system that anticipates and adjusts responsiveness in a variety of brain systems (e.g., sensory, attention, memory, language, affect) to efficiently achieve goals determined by cerebral and other subcortical systems.
"Due to this widespread connectivity , Schmahmann and Pandya (2008) proposed that the cerebellum is involved with automatizing and optimizing functions around a " homeostatic baseline " ; indicating that the cerebellum coordinates cognitive and emotional functions in the same way that it regulates and controls motor activity. Just as the cerebellum predicts the neural systems needed for a particular motor action, researchers suggest that it also predicts neural systems needed for a motor operation and then prepares for the operation at hand (Akshoomoff et al., 1997; Courchesne and Allen, 1997; Allen and Courchesne, 1998). If the fundamental role of the cerebellum were to predict the neural systems needed to plan, adjust, and execute movements , then cerebellar damage or disease would likely affect the optimal functioning of a given neural system (Allen et al., 2004). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recently, there has been increased focus on movement and sensory abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This has come from research demonstrating cortical and cerebellar differences in autism, with suggestion of early cerebellar dysfunction. As evidence for an extended profile of ASD grows, there are vast implications for treatment and therapy for individuals with autism. Persons with autism are often provided behavioral or cognitive strategies for navigating their environment; however, these strategies do not consider differences in motor functioning. One accommodation that has not yet been explored in the literature is the use of auditory rhythmic cueing to improve motor functioning in ASD. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the potential impact of auditory rhythmic cueing for motor functioning in persons with ASD. To this effect, we review research on rhythm in motor rehabilitation, draw parallels to motor dysfunction in ASD, and propose a rationale for how rhythmic input can improve sensorimotor functioning, thereby allowing individuals with autism to demonstrate their full cognitive, behavioral, social, and communicative potential.
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 03/2013; 7:19. DOI:10.3389/fnint.2013.00019
"). Furthermore, the cerebellum may also play a role in both covert and overt orienting of attention (Akshoomoff, Courchesne, & Townsend, 1997; Pelisson, Goffart, Guillaume, & Quinet, 2003). Evidence from individuals with cortical and subcortical lesions suggests that reflexive orienting is likely mediated by subcortical and more posterior cortical regions, while a network of frontal-parietal regions underlie voluntary orienting (Rafal, 1998). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The sociocommunicative impairments that define autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not present at birth but emerge gradually over the first two years of life. In typical development, basic attentional processes may provide a critical foundation for sociocommunicative abilities. Therefore early attentional dysfunction in ASD may result in atypical development of social communication. Prior research has demonstrated that persons with ASD exhibit early and lifelong impairments in attention. The primary aim of this paper is to provide a review of the extant research on attention in ASD using a framework of functionally independent attentional networks as conceptualized by Posner and colleagues: the alerting, orienting and executive control networks (Posner and Petersen, 1990; Petersen and Posner, 2012). The neural substrates and typical development of each attentional network is briefly discussed, a review of the ASD attention literature is presented, and a hypothesis is proposed that links aberrant attentional mechanisms, specifically impaired disengagement of attention, with the emergence of core ASD symptoms.
"The frontal lobes support a multitude of higher-order cognitive processes, and play a central role in executive functions like attention, working memory, and planning. With respect to the cerebellum, although this structure has traditionally been regarded as a neural device dedicated to motor control, research findings indicate a role for the cerebellum in the acquisition and modulation of cognitive processes by remodulating cortical connections and adjusting the responsiveness in other brain systems via cerebello-thalamico and cortico-pontine-cerebellar feedback and feedforward loops [Akshoomoff et al., 1997; Steinlin, 2007]. Although learning-based plasticity has typically been associated with changes in synaptic strength, increasing evidence shows that training can also render dynamic structural alterations in the nervous system [for review, see Holtmaat and Svoboda, 2009]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Experience-based neuroplasticity has typically been associated with functional changes, but growing evidence indicates that training can also render dynamic structural alterations in the brain. Although research on training-induced morphological plasticity has consistently demonstrated rapid increases of gray matter volume in task-related regions, no studies have examined if local volumetric reductions in gray matter associated with certain psychiatric disorders may be reversible by adequate training. We aimed to assess whether a training program applied to ADHD patients can contravene some of the associated neuroanatomical alterations. High-resolution anatomical scans were acquired before and after the training period, and a whole-brain tensor-based morphometric approach was applied to extract a voxel-wise estimation of longitudinal changes in regional gray matter volume. Our results show focal volumetric gray matter increases in bilateral middle frontal cortex and right inferior-posterior cerebellum after cognitive training compared with the ADHD control group. The extent of gray matter volume increase in the inferior-posterior cerebellum was associated with attentional performance. These findings illustrate the capacity of the nervous system for rapid morphological adjustments in response to environmental triggers. Moreover, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cerebellum are commonly considered sites of volumetric reduction in ADHD, and the inferior-posterior lobule of the cerebellum is associated with progressive symptom-related volume loss. Hence, the clusters of volumetric change observed in our study were confined to structures typically characterized by volume reduction in ADHD patients, providing preliminary indications that cognitive training may contravene some of the neuroanatomical deficits associated with the disorder.
Human Brain Mapping 10/2011; 32(10):1741-9. DOI:10.1002/hbm.21143 · 5.97 Impact Factor
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