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The role of the cerebellum in depressive syndrome

The role of the cerebellum in depressive syndrome

Several studies using neuroimaging are detecting a role of the cerebellum and its alterations in cognitive and affective processes, with particular implications regarding mood disorders, such as depression.

 

Advertising message The cerebellum has always been studied for its role in motor processes. Lately the research is moving towards understanding the function that this structure of the Central Nervous System has in the cognitive and affective processes, thanks to the application of modern neuroimaging techniques. In particular, the implications that the cerebellum has in mood disorders are being explored. In depressed patients, reduced connectivity is found in the cerebellar nerve circuits. These functional alterations would cause some symptoms that occur during depressive syndromes, such as, for example, the depletion of working memory and psychomotor slowdown.

Keywords : cerebellum, depressive syndrome, working memory depletion, psychomotor slowdown.

 

The cerebellum has always been studied for the role it has in motor processes. Lately the research is moving towards understanding the function that this structure of the Central Nervous System has in the cognitive and affective processes, thanks to the application of modern neuroimaging techniques. In particular, the implications that the cerebellum has in mood disorders are being explored.

In this regard, lesions affecting the posterior cerebellar hemisphere and the cerebellar worm are frequently associated with cognitive and affective disorders (Depping et al., 2018). From a cognitive point of view, there are alterations in the sphere of executive and linguistic functions and, in the affective sphere, there is a process of emotional dysregulation, characterized by emotional lability, alteration of social emotional skills and depressed mood (Hoche et al. , 2018).

Electrical stimulation of the cerebellar neuronal circuits produces an increase in anxiety and impulsive behaviors in experimental animals (Huguet et al., 2017).

Buckner et al. (2011), through investigations carried out with functional magnetic resonance imaging, have shown that a large part of the neural circuits, which belong to the cerebellar cortex, are implicated in cognitive and emotional psychophysiology.

Other researches (Alalade et al., 2011; Liu et al., 2012; Guo et al., 2013) have shown that in patients suffering from depression there is a slowdown in the functional connections between some areas of the cerebellar cortex and in some nervous pathways that connect the cerebellum to the cerebral cortex. Such functional alterations would be responsible for an impoverishment of the working verbal memory, a symptom that is noticed in many depressed patients. In addition, they would be the basis of the psychomotor slowdown, which is observed in many subjects during mood disorders (Buyukdura et al., 2011; Bracht et al., 2012; Hyett et al., 2018).

In conclusion, in depressed patients there is a reduced connectivity in the cerebellar nerve circuits. These functional alterations would cause some symptoms that occur during depressive syndromes, such as, for example, the depletion of working memory and psychomotor slowdown.