News Release

Research team discovers new role of cerebellum in coordinating the brain network essential for social recognition memory

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Minnesota Medical School

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (11/06/2023) — As millions of Americans struggle with memory loss and dementia brought on by increasingly common neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, greater understanding of how the brain works and is affected in those suffering from memory loss will be key to advancing more effective and targeted treatments.

Published in Nature Communications, University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus researchers discovered the cerebellum coordinates the brain network essential for social recognition memory. Social recognition memory is a cognitive process that allows individuals to remember and recognize the identities of other people, particularly those they have previously encountered. 

“Loss of recognition memory is a common symptom in neurodegenerative disorders. Understanding this complex brain function is a critical step that could lead to the development of targeted therapies,” said Yi-Mei Yang, PhD, an associate professor at the U of M Medical School, Duluth Campus. 

In this study, researchers directed cerebellar activity with precise control in preclinical models. They found that the cerebellum is engaged in the retrieval of social information by activating the neural matrix underlying emotional responses and cognitive functions.

The research team says future studies will include real-time monitoring of cerebellum-neocortex interactions during social recognition tasks. 

Research funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health [grants R15 NS112964, R01 MH129300 and R01 NS112289], the Singapore Ministry of Education [grant MOE2017-T3-1-002], the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Young Investigator grant and the Winston and Maxine Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Fund. 

The work was also supported by the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction through the University of Minnesota Structural Circuits Core.


About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. We acknowledge that the U of M Medical School, both the Twin Cities campus and Duluth campus, is located on traditional, ancestral and contemporary lands of the Dakota and the Ojibwe, and scores of other Indigenous people, and we affirm our commitment to tribal communities and their sovereignty as we seek to improve and strengthen our relations with tribal nations. For more information about the U of M Medical School, please visit

About the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction

The University of Minnesota's Medical Discovery Team on Addiction is a multidisciplinary initiative within the University of Minnesota’s Medical School to advance research and treatment in the field of drug addiction. The overarching goal of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction is to link brain-based discoveries to new therapeutic approaches to treat or prevent addiction. The State of Minnesota has appropriated significant funds for the Medical School to enhance our capacity to build a world-class, neuroscience-based program for the study and treatment of addiction.

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