Magnetic resonance imaging of cerebellar-prefrontal and cerebellar-parietal functional connectivity

Greg Allen, Roderick McColl, Holly Barnard, Wendy K. Ringe, James Fleckenstein, C. Munro Cullum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

227 Scopus citations


Recent studies of the cerebellum indicated its involvement in a diverse array of functions, and analyses of non-human primate neuroanatomy have revealed connections between cerebellum and cerebral cortex that might support cerebellar contributions to a wider range of functions than traditionally thought. These include cortico-ponto-cerebellar projections originating throughout cerebral cortex, in addition to projections from the dentate nucleus of the cerebellum to prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices via the thalamus. Such projections likely serve as important substrates for cerebellar involvement in human cognition, assuming their analogues are prominent in the human brain. These connections can be examined from a functional perspective through the use of functional connectivity MRI (FCMRI), a technique that allows the in vivo examination of coherence in MR signal among functionally related brain regions. Using this approach, low-frequency fluctuations in MR signal in the dentate nucleus correlated with signal fluctuations in cerebellar, thalamic, limbic, striatal, and cerebrocortical regions including parietal and frontal sites, with prominent coherence in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings indicate that FCMRI is a useful tool for examining functional relationships between the cerebellum and other brain regions, and they support the findings from non-human primate studies showing anatomic projections from cerebellum to regions of cerebral cortex with known involvement in higher cognitive functions. To our knowledge, this represents the first demonstration of functional coherence between the dentate nucleus and parietal and prefrontal cortices in the human brain, suggesting the presence of cerebellar-parietal and cerebellar-prefrontal functional connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 15 2005


  • Basal ganglia
  • Cerebellum
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Limbic system
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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