Cerebro-Cerebellar Response to Sequence Violation in a Cognitive Task: an fMRI Study

Yi Shin Sheu, John E. Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The phonological loop is part of Baddeley’s verbal working memory (VWM) model that stores phonological information and refreshes its contents through an articulatory process. Many studies have reported the cerebellum’s involvement during VWM tasks. In the motor literature, the cerebellum is thought to support smooth and rapid movement sequences through internal models that simulate the action of motor commands, then use the error signals generating from the discrepancy between the predicted and actual sensory consequences to adjust the motor system. Here, we hypothesize that a similar monitoring and error-driven adjustment process can be extended to VWM; specifically, the cerebellum checks for discrepancies between the predicted and actual articulatory process to ensure the accuracy and fluency of articulatory rehearsal. During neuroimaging, participants rehearsed a sequence of letters in sync with the presentation of a visual pacing stimulus (#) that was terminated by the occurrence of a probe letter. Participants judged whether the probe was the correct letter in the sequence (i.e., match trial), or deviated from the sequence (i.e., mismatch trial). Detection of sequence violation was not only associated with prolonged reaction time but also an increased activation in a left executive control network. Psychophysiological interaction was used to investigate whether the cerebellum interacts with the cerebral cortex for error monitoring and adjustments. We found increased functional connectivity between the right cerebellum and the cerebral cortex during mismatch relative to match probes, indicating sequence violation resulting in greater cerebellar connectivity with areas in the cerebral cortex involved in phonological sequencing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Cerebellum
  • Forward models
  • Phonological loop
  • Sequence violation
  • Working memory
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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