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Structural connectivity subserving language: the role of the cerebellum in comprehension

Poster D26 in Poster Session D with Social Hour, Friday, October 7, 5:30 - 7:15 pm EDT, Millennium Hall

Katie Jobson1, Jamie Reilly1, Ingrid Olson1; 1Temple University

Prior lesion and fMRI studies have shown that portions of the posterior cerebellum are sensitive to language tasks, such as sentence comprehension. Are these regions structurally connected to regions of the “eloquent” brain, like the left inferior frontal gyrus? In the current study, functional imaging data from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) dataset were used to create language-specific cerebellar regions of interest (ROIs) implicated in sentence comprehension, verbal working memory and motor function. These ROIs were used as seed regions for a probabilistic diffusion-weighted imaging study. We found that (a) working memory, motor activity, and language comprehension activated partially overlapping but mostly unique regions of the cerebellum; (b) the linguistic portion of the cerebello-thalamo-cortical circuit had greater volume than the linguistic portion of the cortico-ponto-cerebellar tract; (c) there was a frontal-lobe bias in the structural connectivity; and (e) individual differences in a naming task correlated with variation in the cerebellar peduncles. These findings indicate that language-sensitive regions of the cerebellum are structurally connected to language-sensitive regions of the cerebrum, with a bias towards frontal lobe, and relatively fewer connections to temporal lobe regions. This provides evidence that the cerebellum is involved high-level language functions, like language comprehension.

Topic Areas: Perception: Auditory, Phonology and Phonological Working Memory

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