Abstract

The role of the cerebellum in speech perception remains a mystery. Given its uniform architecture, we tested the hypothesis that it implements a domain-general mechanism whose role in speech is determined by connectivity. We collated all neuroimaging studies reporting cerebellar activity in the Neurosynth database (n = 8206). From this set, we found all studies involving passive speech and sound perception (n = 72, 64% speech, 12.5% sounds, 12.5% music, and 11% tones) and speech production and articulation (n = 175). Standard and coactivation neuroimaging meta-analyses were used to compare cerebellar and associated cortical activations between passive perception and production. We found distinct regions of perception- and production-related activity in the cerebellum and regions of perception–production overlap. Each of these regions had distinct patterns of cortico-cerebellar connectivity. To test for domain-generality versus specificity, we identified all psychological and task-related terms in the Neurosynth database that predicted activity in cerebellar regions associated with passive perception and production. Regions in the cerebellum activated by speech perception were associated with domain-general terms related to prediction. One hallmark of predictive processing is metabolic savings (i.e., decreases in neural activity when events are predicted). To test the hypothesis that the cerebellum plays a predictive role in speech perception, we examined cortical activation between studies reporting cerebellar activation and those without cerebellar activation during speech perception. When the cerebellum was active during speech perception, there was far less cortical activation than when it was inactive. The results suggest that the cerebellum implements a domain-general mechanism related to prediction during speech perception.

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