Consensus Paper. Cerebellar Reserve: From Cerebellar Physiology to Cerebellar Disorders

H. Mitoma, A. Buffo, F. Gelfo, X. Guell, E. Fucà, S. Kakei, J. Lee, M. Manto, L. Petrosini, A.G. Shaikh, J.D. Schmahmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cerebellar reserve refers to the capacity of the cerebellum to compensate for tissue damage or loss of function resulting from many different etiologies. When the inciting event produces acute focal damage (e.g., stroke, trauma), impaired cerebellar function may be compensated for by other cerebellar areas or by extracerebellar structures (i.e., structural cerebellar reserve). In contrast, when pathological changes compromise cerebellar neuronal integrity gradually leading to cell death (e.g., metabolic and immune-mediated cerebellar ataxias, neurodegenerative ataxias), it is possible that the affected area itself can compensate for the slowly evolving cerebellar lesion (i.e., functional cerebellar reserve). Here, we examine cerebellar reserve from the perspective of the three cornerstones of clinical ataxiology: control of ocular movements, coordination of voluntary axial and appendicular movements, and cognitive functions. Current evidence indicates that cerebellar reserve is potentiated by environmental enrichment through the mechanisms of autophagy and synaptogenesis, suggesting that cerebellar reserve is not rigid or fixed, but exhibits plasticity potentiated by experience. These conclusions have therapeutic implications. During the period when cerebellar reserve is preserved, treatments should be directed at stopping disease progression and/or limiting the pathological process. Simultaneously, cerebellar reserve may be potentiated using multiple approaches. Potentiation of cerebellar reserve may lead to compensation and restoration of function in the setting of cerebellar diseases, and also in disorders primarily of the cerebral hemispheres by enhancing cerebellar mechanisms of action. It therefore appears that cerebellar reserve, and the underlying plasticity of cerebellar microcircuitry that enables it, may be of critical neurobiological importance to a wide range of neurological/neuropsychiatric conditions. © 2019, The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-153
Number of pages23
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Autophagy
  • Cerebellar ataxias
  • Cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome
  • Cerebellar reserve
  • Cerebellum
  • Dendritic spines
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Eye movement
  • Neuromodulation therapy
  • Predictive control
  • Saccade
  • Article
  • autophagy (cellular)
  • cerebellar ataxia
  • cerebellar peduncle
  • cerebellectomy
  • cerebellum disease
  • cognition
  • cognitive reserve
  • disease exacerbation
  • experience
  • human
  • motor coordination
  • nerve cell plasticity
  • nervous system function
  • neurobiology
  • neuromodulation
  • pathophysiology
  • priority journal
  • synaptogenesis
  • adaptation
  • animal
  • cerebellum
  • consensus
  • eye movement
  • physiology
  • psychology
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Cerebellar Diseases
  • Consensus
  • Eye Movements
  • Humans


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