Motor and linguistic linking of space and time in the cerebellum

Massimiliano Oliveri, Patrizia Turriziani, Emanuele Lo Gerfo, Sonia Bonnì, Carlo Caltagirone, Giacomo Koch, Carmelo Mario Vicario, Sara Torriero, Laura Petrosini, Massimiliano Oliveri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Recent literature documented the presence of spatial-temporal interactions in the human brain. The aim of the present study was to verify whether representation of past and future is also mapped onto spatial representations and whether the cerebellum may be a neural substrate for linking space and time in the linguistic domain. We asked whether processing of the tense of a verb is influenced by the space where response takes place and by the semantics of the verb. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Responses to past tense were facilitated in the left space while responses to future tense were facilitated in the right space. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the right cerebellum selectively slowed down responses to future tense of action verbs; rTMS of both cerebellar hemispheres decreased accuracy of responses to past tense in the left space and to future tense in the right space for non-verbs, and to future tense in the right space for state verbs. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that representation of past and future is mapped onto spatial formats and that motor action could represent the link between spatial and temporal dimensions. Right cerebellar, left motor brain networks could be part of the prospective brain, whose primary function is to use past experiences to anticipate future events. Both cerebellar hemispheres could play a role in establishing the grammatical rules for verb conjugation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalPLoS One
Publication statusPublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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