Assessing Cerebellar Cognition with Neuropsychological Testing

The function of the cerebellum in movement and coordination has been well established. The cerebellum’s higher cognitive properties, however, have yet to be explained. Given that the cerebellum is the single most common site of childhood brain tumors, a better understanding of cerebellar neurocognitive functioning is imperative.

Carol L. Armstrong, PhD, ABPN, and researchers at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research are developing and validating new neurocognitive tests that can be used to evaluate the functional problems resulting from cerebellar tumors. Unlike most neuropsychological tests that measure explicit cognition, these tests measure implicit cognition, such as perception of time intervals or the effects of hidden repeated patterns on learning.

Assessment of the data collected during these tests may help families facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis have a better understanding of the effects of the tumor on their children’s ability to learn and lead to better recommendations for learning. Researchers hope to contribute to the overall understanding of how the cerebellum functions with regard to cognition and emotion, and possibly provide insight into other cerebellar disorders.