New SNSF Grant for the CEREBEMO project

A new grant from Swiss National Science Foundation for the project entitled Influence of top-down mechanisms on cerebellar activity during vocal emotion decoding” (Grant N°: 105314_215015 – 2023 - 2026).

Lay summary

The cerebellum uses its large-scale brain connections with the cerebral neocortex and subcortical regions (e.g., basal ganglia) to monitor and modulate timed sequence patterns of events using prediction error feedback in a diverse range of tasks, including the recognition of auditory emotion (emotional prosody). Substantial progress has been made in recent years in understanding the role of the cerebellum in vocal emotion recognition (including by our own group), but much clearly remains to be discovered at the fundamental level, notably regarding the so-called “top-down” processes that modulate emotional prosody processing. Among top-down processes, the attentional focus of the participant: either attention is focused on the emotion expressed by the voice (explicit processing) or an automatic processing of the emotional tone of a voice is performed while participant attention is focused on another task (implicit processing). Recent works, and in particular those which we carried out within the framework of the FNRS project no. 105314_182221, of which this project is a follow-up, suggested, by indirect evidence, that the cerebellum would be under the influences of such mechanism during the processing of emotional prosody recognition. But to date, and although the idea of a cerebellar contribution to attentional functions first emerged in the late 1980s, the influence of top-down mechanisms on cerebellar activity during emotional decoding remains unclear.

This project aims at testing the contributions of attentional focus modulation on vocal emotion recognition abilities in patients in the chronic phase of chromic cerebellar stroke as compared to healthy controls. To this end, we will manipulate an emotion recognition task administered to cerebellar stroke patients (focus on the speaker’s emotion or gender), while neural correlates are investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) > 6 months post-stroke. We will adopt an interdisciplinary approach, combining affective neuropsychology with experimental cognitive psychology and functional neuroimaging (including analyses of functional connectivity and brain network dynamics). This project will follow on from FNRS project no. 105314_182221 entitled “Cerebellar contribution to human emotion recognition: insights from stroke and neuroimaging”.

Find out more about the CEREBEMO project here.