Long-term changes in cerebellar activation during functional recovery from transient peripheral motor paralysis
Localized altered cerebellar cortical activity can be associated with short-term changes in motor learning that take place in the course of hours, but it is unknown whether it can be correlated to long-term recovery from transient peripheral motor diseases, and if so, whether it occurs concomitantly in related brain regions. Here we show in a longitudinal fMRI study of patients with unilateral Bell's palsy that increases in ipsilateral cerebellar activity follow the recovery course of facial motor functions over at least one and a half years. These findings hold true for changes in brain activity related to both oral and peri-orbital activation, even though these processes are differentially mediated by unilateral and bilateral brain connectivities, respectively. Activation of non-facial musculature, which was studied for control, does not show any change in cerebellar activity over time. The localized changes in cerebellar activities following activation of facial functions occur concomitantly with increases in activity of the facial region in the contralateral primary motor cortex suggesting that the cerebellum acts together with the cerebral cortex in long-term adaptation to transient pathological sensorimotor processing.