Structure and Function of the Cerebellum

The cerebellum is located inferior to the occipital lobe of the cerebrum and helps with motor coordination.

The cerebellum is a structure located at the very back of the brain in the area called the hindbrain. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that functions as a processing center for all of the information coming into and out of the cerebral cortex. In turn, it coordinates the appropriate muscle movements to produce a response. It is located behind the pons and the medulla oblongata and works with the subconscious mind. Some researchers have found evidence that the cerebellum may be involved (at least partially) with cognitive thought, production of language, and even the display of emotions.

The cerebellum is located behind and beneath the two halves (or hemispheres) of the cerebrum. The surface has many ridges, called gyri, on its surface, as well as deep fissures that extend all the way to its center. These fissures divide the cerebellum into anterior and posterior sections. The outer surface of the cerebellum is gray matter, but it also has an internal core of white matter, just like the cerebrum. Each of the two main lobes, which are collectively responsible for the coordination of the movements of the body, control separate activities. Both the anterior and posterior lobes help coordinate movements in the muscles found in the main parts of the body, such as the abdomen and the pelvis. They also help the appendages, such as arms and legs, perform movements that require great dexterity, such as writing with a pencil or playing the piano.

Anatomy of the Cerebellum

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that serves as a processing center for all of the stimuli entering the brain. It is divided into anterior and posterior lobes, each one having a series of neurons that are used to fine-tune motor responses.
As stimuli enter the cerebellum from the cerebrum, they are reorganized so that a proper motor response can be performed. First, relay centers in the brain stem alert the cerebellum that they are about to start voluntary muscle contractions. This message originates in the cerebrum. Concurrently, receptors throughout the body also send messages to the cerebellum regarding the current positions and contraction levels of muscles and tendons. The cerebellum is able to evaluate sensory input to best determine the amount of force needed to move the muscles and calculate the amount of muscle contraction to keep the muscles from overextending themselves. Finally, the cerebellum sends the signal to the motor cortex of the cerebrum. The cerebrum then responds accordingly, sending the signal across the motor neurons to direct the movement.