This review provides a developmental perspective on our current understanding of the role of the cerebellum for sensorimotor and cognitive function. A synopsis on the contribution of the cerebellum on motor control, learning and cognition based on experiments in human adults and animals is presented. This knowledge is contrasted to the relevant literature on children and adolescents. Special attention is given to findings derived from lesion studies and clinical reports that examined the effect of cerebellar damage during development. In general, it is established that children may show the same sensorimotor deficits as adults as a result of cerebellar damage, while the findings of cognitive dysfunction in children are less clear and remain controversial. Younger children do not necessarily recover better than older children or adolescents. The sparing of the deep cerebellar nuclei and the extent of adjuvant chemo- or radiation therapy are better predictors of later motor and cognitive function in children and adolescents.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG Ti 239/5-2). The idea for the review originated from a presentation given at the international workshop on “Lesions of the Developing Nervous System” in Groningen, Holland, in May 2006.
- Motor control
- Motor learning