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Selective recruitment of the cerebellum evidenced by task-dependent gating of inputs

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Elife. 2024 Jul 9;13:RP96386. doi: 10.7554/eLife.96386.

ABSTRACT

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have documented cerebellar activity across a wide array of tasks. However, the functional contribution of the cerebellum within these task domains remains unclear because cerebellar activity is often studied in isolation. This is problematic, as cerebellar fMRI activity may simply reflect the transmission of neocortical activity through fixed connections. Here, we present a new approach that addresses this problem. Rather than focus on task-dependent activity changes in the cerebellum alone, we ask if neocortical inputs to the cerebellum are gated in a task-dependent manner. We hypothesize that input is upregulated when the cerebellum functionally contributes to a task. We first validated this approach using a finger movement task, where the integrity of the cerebellum has been shown to be essential for the coordination of rapid alternating movements but not for force generation. While both neocortical and cerebellar activity increased with increasing speed and force, the speed-related changes in the cerebellum were larger than predicted by an optimized cortico-cerebellar connectivity model. We then applied the same approach in a cognitive domain, assessing how the cerebellum supports working memory. Enhanced gating was associated with the encoding of items in working memory, but not with the manipulation or retrieval of the items. Focusing on task-dependent gating of neocortical inputs to the cerebellum offers a promising approach for using fMRI to understand the specific contributions of the cerebellum to cognitive function.

PMID:38980147 | DOI:10.7554/eLife.96386

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