The role of the cerebellum for feedback processing and behavioral switching in a reversal-learning task

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Previous studies have reported cerebellar activations during error and reward processing. The present study investigated if the cerebellum differentially processes feedback depending on changes in response strategy during reversal learning, as is conceivable given its internal models for movement and thought. Negative relative to positive feedback in an fMRI-based reversal learning task was hypothesized to be associated with increased cerebellar activations. Moreover, increased activations were expected for negative feedback followed by a change in response strategy compared to negative feedback not followed by such a change, and for first positive feedback after compared to final negative feedback before a change, due to updating of internal models. As predicted, activation in lobules VI and VIIa/Crus I was increased for negative relative to positive feedback, and for final negative feedback before a change in response strategy relative to negative feedback not associated with a change. Moreover, activation was increased for first positive feedback after relative to final negative feedback before a change. These findings are consistent with updating of cerebellar internal models to accommodate new behavioral strategies. Recruitment of posterior regions in reversal learning is in line with the cerebellar functional topography, with posterior regions involved in complex motor and cognitive functions.

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