When we think inside the head, we usually directly imagine a brain. With its gray lobed structure, and its slightly amorphous mass. The brain, however, is just one more part of the brain, which is considered the most important organ in the body.
Today we tell you what one of its parts consists of: the cerebellum. We will see what are their physiological functions, their anatomical location, why it is so important for our body, and finally we will do an examination of curiosities about the cerebellum.
What is the cerebellum?
One of the curiosities of the cerebellum is its location. The cerebellum, as we have seen, is part of the brain. The brain is made up of five parts: the brain, cerebellum, midbrain, Varolio bridge, and medulla oblongata. The brain is therefore an organ of the nerve mass contained in the skull.
This organ is in turn surrounded by the meninges, which are three so-called membranes, from the outside to the inside: duramater, arachnoid and piamater. These membranes are made of connective tissue that covers the entire central nervous system, providing soft protection, below the hard protection of bone structures.
The cerebellum is located at the back of the brain and is made up of nerve tissue. Its basic and quintessential function is to support muscle coordination and involuntary movements.
This processes information from other areas of the brain, spinal cord, and sensory receptors. Once the information is processed, it translates into an indication of the exact time to perform coordinated movements of the skeletal muscular system.
Curiosities about the cerebellum
This organ is approximately 10 cm wide and 5 cm high and weighs approximately 150 to 160 grams (considering an adult cerebellum), and is involved in virtually all movements of the skeletal muscle. Here we are going to see some curiosities about the cerebellum that show how it works, how it is and some facts about how it has been studied.
1. Origin of name
The word “cerebellum” comes from Latin and its literal meaning is “little brain”.. This name is perfect because the size of the cerebellum compared to that of the brain, is much smaller (the cerebellum makes up 10% of the brain in terms of size).
There are references that associate the creation of the term with Leonardo da Vinci – who carried out advanced studies in neurology – for the first time in 1504.
The cerebellum is involved in a number of actions, from the most basic to the most complex, such as driving, passing an object, throwing a ball, crossing a bridge, or playing an instrument. the cerebellum allows the body to move smoothly, maintaining a state of balance, Coordinate eye movements, motor learning (eg driving) and other similar functions.
It was in the 19th century that research began and experimented in France with this part of the brain. One of the first findings revealed was that surgical removal of the cerebellum caused disturbances in muscle movement and coordination.
On another side, the cerebellum is known to be involved in the regulation of emotions and cognitive processes. It is responsible for linking emotional states to lived experiences, maintaining these sensations over time. On the other hand, it intervenes in the process of learning these emotions.
The cerebellum has also been linked to connections between other areas of the cerebral cortex and therefore to cognitive processes such as memory. Studies have even been done that relate the size of the cerebellum to a person’s intelligence.
3. Diseases of the cerebellum
Other curiosities about the cerebellum are its diseases. It is known that the most common symptoms of a mild cerebellar disorder these are: lack of muscle control and coordination, difficulty walking or walking, abnormal eye movements and headaches (typical headaches).
On the other hand, and as the cerebellum has been shown to be involved in movement, diseases began to be studied that could affect this organ. Thus, it has been seen that most of the major diseases resulting from some damage to the cerebellum are related to movement, although cerebral hemorrhages, spills, genetic malformations or tumors of the cerebellum are also considered.
Ataxia is the loss of coordination and muscle control resulting from a problem with the cerebellum; in this case, what happens is that parts of the cerebellum (nervous system) that control movement have been damaged. Ataxia can be reversible when the cause is treated and in other cases it can go away on its own.
The causes of the disease in the cerebellum (nervous system) are diverse: exposure to toxins (alcoholic drinks, certain drugs, heavy metals such as mercury and lead, solvents such as those used in paint, etc.), exposure to viruses such as chickenpox, HIV, or stroke
Hypotonia consists of decreased muscle tone and its resulting stiffness and sagging state. This condition in itself isn’t too worrisome – unless it’s infants or young children – but it’s often a symptom of another underlying disease.
3.3. uncontrolled tremors
Cerebellar-type tremors are caused by injury to the cerebellum and involve spasms and involuntary movements. Its severity depends on the frequency of the spasms, the amplitude of the involuntary movements, the intensity and the speed of onset of these symptoms.
4. Its concentration of neurons is high
Other curiosities about the cerebellum are as follows. We know they are in the cerebellum about 50% of all neurons in the brain. This is really curious because the size of the cerebellum in relation to the brain is 10%.
5. There are cases of people without a cerebellum
After this detailed description of the functions of the cerebellum, it is difficult to believe that a human being can live without this organ. However, there are studies documenting the existence of people born without a cerebellum.
In addition, there are almost a few cases of adults without a cerebellum in the worldIn other words, they were born without a cerebellum and did not die prematurely. This phenomenon highlights the survival and adaptive plastic capacity of the human brain to the environment that surrounds it.
How to keep a healthy cerebellum
Maintaining good bodily health is essential for enjoying a quality of life. And with that comes the intrinsic care of our head and with a healthy cerebellum.
For example, avoid the risk of cardiovascular events by stopping smoking and exercising, limiting alcohol consumption (damaging the cerebellum), protecting the head physically (especially if we are exposed to accidents) or by avoiding handling lead as they can chronically intoxicate the cerebellum).
- Gerard J. Tortora, Bryan Derrickson (2018). Principles of anatomy and physiology. Editorial Médica Panamericana SA 15th edition.
- Guyton Room I (2016). Treatise on medical physiology. Elsevier Editorial. 13th edition.
- Schunke Michael, Schulte Erick, Schumacher Udo (2014). General anatomy and locomotor system. Editorial Médica Panamericana SA 3rd edition.