The cerebellum is the area at the back and bottom of the brain behind the brainstem (and shown in purple in the photo below). The cerebellum has several functions relating to movement and coordination, including maintaining balance and rhythm timing, coordinating movement (including eye movement), and motor learning of new tasks. The cerebellum has also been thought to have some role in thinking, language processing, and mood although researchers were not sure of these roles. The cerebellum can be damaged by the brain bleeding through trauma or stroke, toxins, infection, genetic anomalies and/or through tumors/cancer. The main physical dysfunction or disorder when the cerebellum is involved is ataxia or the loss of muscle function or body control.
New Brain Research on the Cerebellum
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say the cerebellum just might be the “mind’s quality control center” and that it shouldn’t be just thought of as the part of the brain for regulating balance and movement. Their findings, published Oct. 25 in Neuron, suggest that the cerebellum has a hand in every aspect of higher brain functions — not just movement, but attention, thinking, planning and decision-making.
The researchers measured the timing of brain activity and found that the cerebellum was consistently the last step in neurologic circuits. Signals were received through sensory systems and processed in intermediate networks in the cerebral cortex before being sent to the cerebellum. There, the researchers surmise, the signals undergo final quality checks before the output is sent back to the cerebral cortex for implementation.