Recent research has indicated that the cerebellum is responsible for social judgments, such as making trait attributions. The present study investigated the function of the posterior cerebellum in supporting sequence learning linked to trait inferences about persons. We conducted a memory paradigm that required participants to learn a given temporal order of six behavioral sentences that all implied the same personality trait of the protagonist. We then asked participants to infer the trait of the person and to recall the correct order of the sentences and to rate their confidence in their trait judgments and retrieval accuracy. Two control conditions were created: a nonsocial comparison control, involving six nonsocial sentences implying a feature of an object, and a nonsocial nonsequential reading baseline condition. While learning the specific sequence of the sentences, the posterior cerebellum (Crus 2) was more activated for social trait-related sequencing than nonsocial object-related sequencing. Also, given a longer duration to learn the sequences, the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex were more activated when participants attempted to retrieve the sequences linked to social traits. In addition, confidence in retrieving the correct order of the social sequences modulated the posterior cerebellum (Crus 1) given a longer duration to learn. Our findings highlight the important function of the posterior cerebellum in supporting an active process of sequencing trait-implying actions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a China Scholarship Council (CSC) award to Min Pu and Strategic Research Program SRP57 from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel awarded to Frank Van Overwalle.
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