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Poster D31

Beyond the Neocortex: Exploring Cerebellar Involvement in Language Comprehension

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Bassel Arafat1, Caroline Nettekoven1, Jörn Diedrichsen1; 1Western University, London Ontario

Although traditionally considered a motor structure, the cerebellum plays a key role in higher-order cognitive functions such as language. However, it remains unclear what the cerebellum contributes to language. In this study, we investigated the activity in the cerebellum during sentence comprehension with fMRI. We used a large language model to develop a set of sentences and parametrically manipulated different language features. Stimuli included wordlists, bigram sentences, sentences with low-frequency words, and sentences with semantic and syntactic violations. We acquired ultra-high field (7T) fMRI data from the cerebellum and neocortex of healthy participants while they listened to the spoken sentences via headphones. Preliminary results show activity mainly in the inferior section of the cerebellar language regions identified using a recently developed functional atlas of the cerebellum. Activity profiles in the language region are highly variable across participants for both the cerebellum and the neocortex. Wordlists and bigrams activated working-memory regions in the cerebellum, while sentences with semantic or syntactic violations or those with low frequency words show higher activity in language regions of the cerebellum and neocortex. This suggests that cerebellar language regions are highly selective to sentences with intact meaning. Ongoing data collection and analysis are expected to give more insight into the variability of these activity profiles across participants and reveal consistent language processing patterns across individuals.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024