Functions of the Cerebellum
The cerebellum plays an essential role in the control of movement. It is responsible for ensuring that movement takes place smoothly, in the right direction, and to the right extent. Cerebellar stimulation modifies movements produced by stimulation of motor areas of the cerebral cortex. The cerebellar cortex is also important for learning of movements (e.g., in learning to write).
Through its vestibular and spinal connections the cerebellum is responsible for maintaining the equilibrium of the body.
These functions are possible because the cerebellum receives constant information regarding the state of contraction of muscles, and of the position of various joints. It also receives information from the eyes, the ears, the vestibular apparatus, the reticular formation and the cerebral cortex. All this information is integrated, and is used to influence movement through motor centres in the brainstem and spinal cord, and also through the cerebral cortex.
Recent studies have shown that the importance of the cerebellum may extend beyond control of motor activity. It has been postulated that the cerebellum may influence autonomic functions; that through the reticular formation and the thalamus it may influence conduction in ascending sensory pathways; and that the cerebral cortex and cerebellar cortex may cooperate in other complex ways.
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