Pain and motor processing in the human cerebellum

Pain-related adaptions in movement require a network architecture that allows for integration across pain and motor circuits. Previous studies addressing this issue have focused on cortical areas such as the midcingulate cortex. Here we focus on pain and motor processing in the human cerebellum. The goal in the current study was to identify areas of activation in the cerebellum that are common to pain and motor processing and to determine whether the activation is limited to the superior and inferior cerebellar motor maps, or extends into multimodal areas of the posterior cerebellum. Our observations identified overlapping activity in left and right lobules VI and VIIb during pain and motor processing. Activation in these multimodal regions persisted when pain and motor processes were combined within the same trial, and activation in contralateral left lobule VIIb persisted when stimulation was controlled for. Functional connectivity analyses revealed significant correlations in the BOLD timeseries between multimodal cerebellar regions and sensorimotor regions in the cerebrum including anterior midcingulate cortex, supplementary motor area, and thalamus. The current findings are the first to show multimodal processing in lobules VI and VIIb for motor control and pain processing, and suggest that the posterior cerebellum may be important in understanding pain-related adaptations in motor control.

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