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Neuroimaging evidence implicating cerebellum in support of sensory/cognitive processes associated with thirst.

Parsons, L.M., Denton, D., Egan, G., McKinley, M., Shade, R.M., Lancaster, J. and Fox, P.T. (2000) Neuroimaging evidence implicating cerebellum in support of sensory/cognitive processes associated with thirst. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, 97 (5). pp. 2332-2336. ISSN 1091-6490


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Recent studies implicate the cerebellum, long considered strictly a motor control structure, in cognitive, sensory, and affective phenomenon. The cerebellum, a phylogenetically ancient structure, has reciprocal ancient connections to the hypothalamus, a structure important in vegetative functions. The present study investigated whether the cerebellum was involved in vegetative functions and the primal emotions engendered by them. Using positron emission tomography, we examined the effects on the cerebellum of the rise of plasma sodium concentration and the emergence of thirst in 10 healthy adults. The correlation of regional cerebral blood flow with subjects' ratings of thirst showed major activation in the vermal central lobule. During the development of thirst, the anterior and posterior quadrangular lobule, lingula, and the vermis were activated. At maximum thirst and then during irrigation of the mouth with water to alleviate dryness, the cerebellum was less activated. However, 3 min after drinking to satiation, the anterior quadrangular lobule and posterior cerebellum were highly activated. The increased cerebellar activity was not related to motor behavior as this did not occur. Instead, responses in ancient cerebellar regions (vermis, fastigal nucleus, archicerebellum) may be more directly related to vegetative and affective aspects of thirst experiences, whereas activity in neocerebellar (posterior) regions may be related to sensory and cognitive aspects. Moreover, the cerebellum is apparently not involved in the computation of thirst per se but rather is activated during changes in thirst/satiation state when the brain is "vigilant" and is monitoring its sensory systems. Some neocerebellar activity may also reflect an intentionality for gratification by drinking inherent in the consciousness of thirst.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Copyright © 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Department of Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Lawrence M Parsons
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2006
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 23:53
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.040555497
Status: Published
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.040555497
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1624

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