Discovery of New Function of Cerebellum; Brain Region Not Only Controls Movement, But Also Plays Key Role in Memory of Emotional Experiences

The cerebellum (activation in red) communicates with various areas of the cerebrum (activations in green) to enhance storage of emotional information. (Credit: MCN, University of Basel).
The cerebellum is known primarily for regulation of movement. Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have now discovered that the cerebellum also plays an important role in remembering emotional experiences. The study was published on October 3, 2022 in PNAS. The article is titledHuman Cerebellum and Corticocerebellar Connections Involved in Emotional Memory Enhancement.” Both positive and negative emotional experiences are stored particularly well in memory. This phenomenon is important to our survival, because we need to remember dangerous situations in order to avoid them in the future. Previous studies have shown that a brain structure called the amygdala, which is important in the processing of emotions, plays a central role in this phenomenon. Emotions activate the amygdala, which in turn facilitates the storage of information in various areas of the cerebrum. The current research, led by Professor Dominique de Quervain, PhD, and Professor Andreas Papassotiropoulos, PhD, at the University of Basel, investigates the role of the cerebellum in storing emotional experiences. In a large-scale study, the researchers showed 1,418 participants emotional and neutral images and recorded the subjects’ brain activity using magnetic resonance imaging.
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