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Cerebellar-cortical interactions in health, aging and disease.


The cerebellum is a region of the brain that plays a major role in the control of movement and balance. These functions are affected in cerebellar stroke, which can lead to atrophy or damage in the rest of the brain (e.g., cerebrum). Conversely, damage to the cerebrum can lead to atrophy in the cerebellum. A large effort by movement scientists is to better understand how the cerebellum and the cerebrum interact to control movement and balance, and how connections between these two brain regions are affected by damage, and change over time. Recent work also suggests that the cerebellum may play a role in higher cognitive functions like language and reasoning. There is relatively little information on how the cerebellum interacts with other brain regions to control movement, balance and cognition. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to investigate brain activity using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during the control of simple movements, and lab-based tests of language and reasoning in participants with and without cerebellar damage.

Primary Outcome Measures:

To better understand the effects of cerebellar stroke on motor control and cognition, and how connections between the cerebellum and the rest of the brain change over time as a result of disease and aging.

Secondary Outcome Measures:

In one session brain activity will be measured using MRI while participants perform simple sensory-motor tasks in the scanner. In another session, behavioural responses such as movement times, trajectories and amplitudes will be measured during lab-based sensory-motor tasks, and tests of language and reasoning.

Intervention Details

Procedure: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), clinical assessment and behavioural testing.

MRI ScannerYou will be required to take part in a series of experiments, which will be spread over two separate sessions on different days. Each session will last no longer than 3 hours. In the first session you will have an MRI scan of the head while you perform a series of movements with your fingers and thumb in the scanner, followed by two additional scans where you relax and produce no movements. The MRI scans will provide us with a picture of brain activity when you produce fine movements of the hand. The whole scan procedure will last approximately 1 hours, but only half this time will involve you producing movements. Short rest breaks will be allowed in the scanner at certain intervals during the experiment. Afterwards, we will ask you a few questions about your mental and physical health.

In the second session, you will be required to perform three simple computer tasks. One task will involve you producing back and forth movements with your upper arm in response to a moving item on a computer monitor whilst holding a computer joystick. Another task will involve you producing spoken words in response to other words you see on a computer monitor, and the final task will require you to perform simple mental arithmetic while listening to a series of numbers. The first task will last no longer than 15 minutes, while the other tasks will last no longer that 40 minutes. You will be given breaks in between each task.

In short, the MRI procedure involves you lying on your back on a padded table (which slides into the scanner), with a coil placed around your head. Extra padding will be provided to ensure that you are comfortable, because it is very important that you are able to keep still during the scan, and even between scans when the scanner is quiet. Although an MRI scan is painless, the scanner is noisy, so you will be given earplugs and headphones to wear. You will also be given an alarm call button that can be pressed during the scan if you need to contact the experimenter in an emergency. When you are comfortable and ready, you will be moved into the scanner tunnel. The scanner is open ended so you won't be completely enclosed at any time. Staff will continue to talk to you using an intercom, and provide you with instructions at the start of the scan. The experiment will last approximately 40 minutes. Afterwards, we will collect two additional scans of your brain. You do not have to produce movements during these scans. When the experiment is complete, the table will be removed from the scanner. The whole procedure will last approximately 1 hours.


Ages eligible for study:   up to 80 years

Genders eligible for study:   Male & Female

Accepts healthy volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • male or female aged 18-80 years
  • clinically diagnosed cerebellar insult

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Has a contraindication to undergoing MRI (e.g. claustrophobia, pacemaker, metallic foreign bodies)
  • Patient is pregnant
  • Has a psychiatric or addictive disorder that would preclude obtaining informed consent or adherence to the protocol

Contacts and Locations


Chief Investigator:

Professor Chris Miall

Tel: 0121 414 2867


Principal Investigator:

Dr Paul Pope

Tel: 0121 414 7201



Behavioural Brain Sciences,
School of Psychology,
University of Birmingham,
B15 2TT.


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