Research Article

Cerebellar modulation of the reward circuitry and social behavior

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Science  18 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6424, eaav0581
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav0581

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The cerebellum and reward-driven behavior

Damage to the cerebellum manifests itself in various forms of cognitive impairment and abnormal social behavior. However, the exact role the cerebellum plays in these conditions is far from clear. Working in mice, Carta et al. found direct projections from the deep cerebellar nuclei to the brain's reward center, a region called the ventral tegmental area (see the Perspective by D'Angelo). These direct projections allowed the cerebellum to play a role in showing a social preference. Intriguingly, this pathway was not prosocial on its own. Cerebellar inputs into the ventral tegmental area were more active during social exploration. Depolarization of ventral tegmental area neurons thus represents a similar reward stimulus as social interaction for mice.

Science, this issue p. eaav0581; see also p. 229

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