Objectives - Recent clinical and functional neuroimagmg evidence points towards a cerebellar role in verbal production. At present it is not clear how the cerebellum participates in language production. The aim was to investigate the influence of cerebellar lesions on verbal fluency abilities with specific focus on the verbal searching strategies employed by patients with cerebellar damage. Methods - Twenty live patients with focal or degenerative cerebellar disease and 14 control subjects were tested in a timed verbal fluency task requiring word production under forced (phonemic or semantic) conditions. To analyse the verbal searching strategy employed, semantic and phonemic cluster analyses were also performed. Results - Performances of cerebellar patients were comparable with those of controls in the semantic task; conversely their performances were significantly impaired when tested in the letter task. Cluster analysis results showed that the verbal fluency impairments linked to specific damage of phonemically related retrieval strategies. Conclusion - Cerebellar damage impairs verbal fluency by specifically affecting phonemic rule performances while sparing semantic rule ones. These findings underline the importance of the cerebellar computing properties in strategy development in the linguistic domain.
- Cluster analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health