Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology
The cerebellar contribution to social cognition
F Hoche, JA Harding, MG Vanghel, JC Sherman, JD Schmahmann
Summary: Neuroimaging and brain lesion studies suggest that the cerebellum is incorporated into neural substrates for social cognition, including tests of emotion attribution (EA) and Theory of Mind Reasoning (TOMR) – the ability to interpret the motivations of others. These results are consistent with the view that EA is necessary for TOM, and provide further support for the hypothesis that the cerebellum contributes to emotion attribution and TOMR.
- Researchers investigated this hypothesis in 35 patients with cerebellar pathology (n=14 isolated cerebellar pathology [IC], n=21 complex cerebrocerebellar pathology [CC]) and 45 healthy matched controls.
- They evaluated cognitive functions, as well as mood and behavioural changes using a battery of social cognition assessments, including tests of emotion attribution (EA) with the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task (RMET; Baron-Cohen et al, 2001), and TOM pictures (Potter et al, 1986).
- Compared with controls, IC and CC patients committed more errors on the RMET task (P<0.001) and provided fewer mental answers on TOMR tasks (P=0.002).
- IC patients were as impaired as CC subjects on both EA tasks (P=0.33) and on TOMR tasks (P=0.23).
Study supported by: National Ataxia Foundation (NAF), MINDlink Foundation, Birmingham Foundation.