Distinct Cerebellar regions for Body Motion Discrimination

Chiara Ferrari, Andrea Ciricugno, Lorella Battelli, Emily D Grossman, Zaira Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Visual processing of human movements is critical for adaptive social behavior. Cerebellar activations have been observed during biological motion discrimination in prior neuroimaging studies and cerebellar lesions may be detrimental for this task. However, whether the cerebellum plays a causal role in biological motion discrimination has never been tested. Here, we addressed this issue in three different experiments by interfering with the posterior cerebellar lobe using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) during a biological discrimination task. In Experiment 1 and 2 we found that TMS delivered at onset of the visual stimuli over the vermis (vermal lobule VI), but not over the left cerebellar hemisphere (left lobule VI/Crus I), interfered with participants' ability to distinguish biological from scrambled motion compared to stimulation of a control site (vertex). Interestingly, when stimulation was delivered at a later time point (300 ms after stimulus onset), participants performed worse when TMS was delivered over the left cerebellar hemisphere compared to the vermis and the vertex (Experiment 3). Our data show that the posterior cerebellum is causally involved in biological motion discrimination, and suggest that different sectors of the posterior cerebellar lobe may contribute to the task at different time points.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 10 2019


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