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The cerebellum and its contributions to the developing linguistic cerebrum

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Poster B68 in Poster Session B, Tuesday, October 24, 3:30 - 5:15 pm CEST, Espace Vieux-Port

Katie Jobson1, Kathy Hirsh-Paesek1, Jamie Reilly1, Ingrid Olson1; 1Temple University

Language production deficits resulting from cerebellar lesions have been extensively documented in the literature. In children, mutism is often observed as a primary symptom, while adults commonly experience anomia and agrammatism. However, comparatively less attention has been given to language comprehension impairments following cerebellar insult. Addressing this research gap, our study aimed to conduct a comprehensive literature review focusing on language comprehension deficits observed in children with cerebellar lesions. Our review revealed that younger children are more prone to developing persistent language comprehension deficits compared to adolescents, which contrasts with the short-term impairments observed in adults. These findings suggest the existence of a crucial developmental gradient in cerebellar involvement in language processing, highlighting the role of the cerebellum in early speech processing development. One possible explanation for the cerebellum's engagement in language comprehension functions is its contribution to sensorimotor integration. Rapid perception and monitoring of incoming sensory information, such as the auditory perception of phonemes and the visual cues provided by a speaker's mouth movements, are integral to language comprehension (Hickok, Houde & Rong, 2012). Other classic theories of cerebellar functioning, prediction and timing, may be plausible explanations for the cerebellum’s involvement in language perception. In addition to investigating the most suitable theory to explain cerebellar involvement in language processing, we also speculate that disruptions in cerebro-cerebellar circuit development may underlie aspects of language dysfunction observed in dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder. This intriguing possibility warrants further exploration and could contribute to a deeper understanding of the neurobiological basis of language impairments in these conditions. Overall, our review sheds light on the importance of considering language comprehension deficits in the context of cerebellar lesions, emphasizes the developmental gradient of cerebellar language processing, and proposes potential connections between cerebellar involvement in language and neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder.

Topic Areas: Speech Perception, Disorders: Developmental

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