The cerebellum (Latin for little brain) is a region of the brain that plays an important role in motor control. It is also involved in some cognitive functions such as attention and language, and probably in some emotional functions such as regulating fear and pleasure responses, but it is its function in movement that is most clearly understood. The cerebellum does not initiate movement, but it contributes to coordination, precision, and accurate timing. It receives input from sensory systems and from other parts of the brain and spinal cord, and integrates these inputs to fine tune motor activity. Because of this fine-tuning function, damage to the cerebellum does not cause paralysis, but instead produces disorders in fine movement, equilibrium, posture, and motor learning.
In terms of anatomy, the cerebellum has the appearance of a separate structure attached to the bottom of the brain, tucked underneath the cerebral hemispheres. The surface of the cerebellum is covered with finely spaced parallel grooves, in striking contrast to the broad irregular convolutions of the cerebral cortex. These parallel grooves conceal the fact that the cerebellum is actually a continuous thin layer of neural tissue (the cerebellar cortex), tightly folded in the style of an accordion. Within this thin layer are several types of neurons with a highly regular arrangement, the most important being Purkinje cells and granule cells. This complex neural network gives rise to a massive signal-processing capability, but almost the entirety of its output is directed to a set of small deep cerebellar nuclei lying in the interior of the cerebellum.
Use your Facebook login and see what your friends are reading and sharing.
Now bringing you back...