What does the cerebellum do?

The brain is considered as the largest and most complex mass of nervous tissue found in the human body. Its size is about two fists with a texture comparable to cold oatmeal. The brain is colored pinkish gray and is wrinkled like a walnut. There are four major regions in the brain. These are as follows: cerebral hemisphere, diencephalon, brain stem, and cerebellum. This article is mainly concentrated on cerebellum. So, what does the cerebellum do?

The Cerebellum is located behind the pons and below the cerebrum. It is separated from the cerebrum by the dura mater. It communicates with other parts of the brain with the use of the pons. The cerebellum has the largest number of neurons, more than other part of the brain. There are three lobes in the cerebellum. These are: flocculonodular lobe, anterior lobe, and posterior lobe. The outer portion of the cerebellum consists of grey matter whereas its inner portion is made up of white matter.

The function of cerebellum lies mainly in the coordination of motor movement, equilibrium, balance, and muscle tone. Other studies also showed that the cerebellum also affects language attention, and mental imagery. Generally, the cerebellum makes the movements of the body smooth and coordinates the intention of the brain to the execution of that intention. It also sends signals to correct movements when they are not in equilibrium.

Aiding the cerebellum in its function are different equilibrium apparatuses. These apparatuses are found on the eyes, inner ears, skeletal muscles, tendons, and other areas of the body as well.

Cerebellar injury leads to disorganized movements (slow and uncoordinated). Those with cerebellar tumors staggers and sway while walking. Other negative effects are as follows: asynergia or loss of movement coordination, adiadochokinesia or inability to do fast alternating movements (alternating pronation and suppination of both hands), dysmetria or inability to judge distance, faling tendencies, hypotonia or weak muscles, ataxic dysarthria or slurring of speech, and nystagmus or abnormal eye movements.

One test to assess if there is damage to the cerebellum is to let the person touch the nose with both hands in alternating manner (while the eyes are closed). Another test is to let the person walk in a straight line and see if the person falls off the line just like the test used in assessing drunk drivers. Should there be any incapability in doing the test; medical advice should be sought immediately.

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