The Role of the Cerebellum in Repetitive Behavior Across Species: Childhood Stereotypies and Deer Mice

Shannon L Dean
Laura Tochen
Farhan Augustine
Syed F Ali, New York Medical College
Deana Crocetti
Shreenath Rajendran
Mary E Blue
E Mark Mahone
Stewart H Mostofsky
Harvey S Singer


Recent studies suggest that the cerebellum may have a significant role in repetitive behaviors. In primary complex motor stereotypies, typically developing children have repetitive movements usually involving rhythmic flapping/waving arm/hand movements. Similarly, the deer mouse animal model exhibits inherited repetitive behaviors, with increased frequencies of spontaneous jumping and rearing. In this study, data from both children with motor stereotypies and deer mice were used to investigate the role of the cerebellum in repetitive behaviors. The 3.0-T MRI volumetric imaging of the cerebellum was obtained in 20 children with primary complex motor stereotypies and 20 healthy controls. In deer mice, cerebellar volume (n = 7/group) and cell counts (n = 9/group) were compared between high- and low-activity animals. Levels of cerebellar neurotransmitters were also determined via HPLC (n = 10/group). In children with stereotypies, (a) there were a statistically significant reduction (compared to controls) in the white matter volume of the posterior cerebellar lobule VI-VII that negatively correlated with motor control and (b) an 8% increase in the anterior vermis gray matter that positively correlated with motor Stereotypy Severity Scores (SSS). In deer mice, (a) there was a significant increase in the volume of the anterior vermal granular cell layer that was associated with higher activity and (b) dentate nucleus cell counts were higher in high activity animals. Similar increases in volume were observed in anterior vermis in children with stereotypies and a deer mouse model of repetitive behaviors. These preliminary findings support the need for further investigation of the cerebellum in repetitive behaviors.