Cortex 2018 03 14;100:140-148. Epub 2017 Jul 14.
Ataxia Unit, Cognitive Behavioral Neurology Unit, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, USA; Laboratory for Neuroanatomy and Cerebellar Neurobiology, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, USA. Electronic address:
In this report, we analyze the relationship between embodied cognition and current theories of the cerebellum, particularly the Dysmetria of Thought theory and the concept of the Universal Cerebellar Transform (UCT). First, we describe the UCT and the Dysmetria of Thought theories, highlight evidence supporting these hypotheses and discuss their mechanisms, functions and relevance. We then propose the following relationships. (i) The UCT strengthens embodied cognition because it provides an example of embodiment where the nature and intensity of the dependence between cognitive, affective and sensorimotor processes are defined. (ii) Conversely, embodied cognition bolsters the UCT theory because it contextualizes a cerebellum-focused theory within a general neurological theory. (iii) Embodied cognition supports the extension to other brain regions of the principles of organization of cerebral cortical connections that underlie the UCT: The notion that cytoarchitectonically determined transforms manifest via connectivity as sensorimotor, cognitive and affective functions resonates with the embodiment thesis that cognitive, affective and sensorimotor systems are interdependent. (iv) Embodied cognition might shape future definitions of the UCT because embodiment redefines the relationship between the neurological systems modulated by the UCT. We conclude by analyzing the relationship between our hypotheses and the concept of syntax and action semantics deficits in motor diseases.