Georgios Argyropoulos, RHUL
The neocerebellum: associative learning and language processing
In this talk I present some of the research conducted during my PhD years on the contributions of neocerebellar circuitry in associative processes in language comprehension. Language perception and comprehension has been recently proposed to dynamically combine the outputs of an ‘input
analysis system’ with predictions of internal forward models, generating an estimate of the next state that the input analysis system will enter. The cerebellum has been widely supported to instantiate computations of state estimation, feedforward control, and/or, more broadly, predictive mechanisms for temporally contiguous neural events. Its cytoarchitectural homogeneity, along with the reciprocal connectivity of neocerebellar lobules with prefrontal cortical areas has supported the idea of a uniform, domain-general cerebellar computation applied, inter alia, in language processing. In a series of three cerebellar TMS studies, I provided evidence for selective involvement of neocerebellar circuitry in mechanisms underlying lexical associative but not semantic categorical priming. After discussing the advantages of cerebellar TMS experimentation and the significance of the findings reported within the broader context of clinical and imaging work on the cerebellum, I go on to critically assess the weaknesses of the experiments conducted so far, and address some of the outstanding research questions in the field.