The cerebellum is a structure located in the back of the brain, which lies below the cerebrum and just above the brain stem. It represents about one tenth of the human brain volume and interacts with the areas in the brain stem called vestibular nuclei, which are interlocked with the organs of balance (semicircular canals) in the inner ear. It is associated and coordinates the body’s movement and balance, and in reality performs the functions in the cognitive field, for example in language. The problems typically associated with the damage to this part of the brain structure, usually affect body posture, balance and movement. The cerebellum additionally stores memories of practiced movement, which enables highly coordinated movements, such as those need in high intensity sports, or any other activity which requires accurate movement and the use of bodies muscles.

What is the cerebellum?

Located at the base of the brain, just above the brain stem (the point at which the spinal cord and brain are joined at) and below the occipital and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex, cerebellum is a structure formed by two hemispheres inside of which are present more than 50% of the neurons contained with the brain. This represents about 10% of the volume of the human brain.

Historically it is considered that this is the seat of the control of movement of the human body. In fact damage to the cerebellum, can impair motor skills and posture, but in reality the impulses to the movement of the body do not arise here. Rather, this structure receives information from other sense organs, such as the spinal cord and other parts of the brain, and then coordinates the voluntary movements, posture, balance, and speech, making them more accurate.

What function does the cerebellum serve?

The main function of the cerebellum is, to integrate information from the brain, the spinal cord and organs of the body. The cerebellum is involved in various functions associated with the movement of the bodies muscles. For example without this structure, it would not be possible to learn the precise movements necessary for practicing a sport or a certain physical activity, hence cerebellum plays a major role in learning to move.

The cerebellum also lets you set your posture to stay balanced. Receiving information from the vestibular receptors present in the ear and proprioceptors that provide insight into the bodies position in space, the cerebellum regulates the activity of the motor neurons in order to compensate for changes in the position of the body, or the load that the muscles are subjected to. Furthermore it coordinates voluntary movements of the body, which in most cases are made possible by the activation of more contemporary muscles, allowing the body, the arms and legs to move in a fluid and coordinated pace.

The cerebellum plays a role also as part of the cognitive functions. Despite involvement in this field, it is not yet clear, however it is very well known that this is important – for example – to ensure good language and motor skills.