There's very little information that I want you to learn about the cerebellum from your book. I only want you to learn about the FUNCTION of the cerebellum here, and your book spends quite a bit of time on the anatomy of the cerebellum. Basically, there's on paragraph on page 405 about the cerebellum that actually talks about its function, and that's the only one you need to read for lecture. The rest is stuff that you'll be learning about in lab.
The cerebellum helps us coordinate our motor skills. It receives tons of proprioceptive (sensory) information from our bodies. It also receives a copy of the motor commands coming down from higher centers in the brain. Let's put these two together with an example:
What happens if there's damage to the cerebellum? An example of damage that could occur is when a tumor grows within the cerebellum. The entire brain has to fit within the skull, so if a tumor starts to grow, it squeezes the brain region in which it is growing to remain fitting within the skull. If this happens in the cerebellum, the cerebellum gets damaged.
Movements become much less coordinated after any cerebellar damage. The best example of this is seen in precision movements, like end-point-contact movements. If you are asked to touch your finger to your nose, as your finger is being brought toward your nose your cerebellum normally makes corrections to the movement command so that you contact your nose (the end point) with no problem. When someone has a cerebellar lesion, the corrections are not made properly, and the person ends up shaking so much that they cannot ever touch their nose.
All movements are perturbed with cerebellar lesion. This shows just how important the cerebellum is.
© 2011 STCC Foundation Press