The relationship between alcoholic cerebellar degeneration and cognitive and emotional functioning Academic Article uri icon


  • Although it is now widely acknowledged that the cerebellum contributes to the modulation of higher-order cognitive and emotional functions, this relationship has not been extensively explored in perhaps the largest group of individuals with cerebellar damage, chronic alcoholics. Localised damage to the cerebellum has been associated with a specific constellation of deficits and has been termed the 'cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome' (CCAS) [Schmahmann, J.D., Sherman, J.C., 1998. The cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome. Brain 121, 561-579]. The CCAS describes a profile of impairments, including deficits in executive functioning and visuospatial skills, language disruption and altered personality and affective behaviour. It is conceivable that the CCAS may also develop in a subgroup of alcoholics with alcoholic cerebellar degeneration and may in part account for a proportion of the cognitive and affective deficits commonly observed with the condition. While evidence has emerged supporting such a relationship, methodological limitations and the lack of theoretically driven investigation of the contribution of cerebellar dysfunction to cognitive and emotional functioning in chronic alcoholics, preclude definitive conclusions being drawn.

publication date

  • January 2008