The Cerebellum, also known as ‘little brain’, lies at the back side of the brain around the brain stem. The cerebellum is responsible for the control of the skeleton muscular system. It receives responses from various parts of the brain and directly handles visual and auditory functions.
It also contributes in the basic memory storage and motor responses of the brain. It modifies and improves the motor responses originating in the brain and makes the movements smoother and seemingly effortless. It is right to quote it as a gateway for all motor responses that pass to and from the brain.
The cerebellum has a different structure from the Cerebrum and is composed of a few folds. It has some exclusive functions. They are mentioned as follows:
- Posture Maintenance- the Cerebellum is responsible for smooth transitions in our posture or the change in the movements that we make. If a person suddenly stops and adjusts the shoelaces, there are chances that he may fall down if the Cerebellum is not working properly. It ensures that the right muscles come to function at the right time with the help of its vestibular receptors and proprioceptors.
- Maintenance of fluidity of body movements- Whenever a body changes inertia to motion, the Cerebellum comes into action. It determines which muscles are to be used in what combination so that the movement can take place.
- Body Balance and Equilibrium- the Cerebellum controls the muscles as well as the auditory system. The vestibular labyrinth contains a fluid that helps the body to maintain its balance. It changes according to the movements. The vestibule sends and receives signals from the Cerebellum which in turn controls the muscles. It is because of this that a person moving in circular motions at one place tends to fall in some time. The vestibular labyrinth fluid moves rapidly and confuses the Cerebellum which can no longer effectively control the muscles.
- Learning and Memory- the Cerebellum also helps in learning. The adaptation of the brain towards throwing a ball or hitting a ball that comes towards you is done by the Cerebellum. Most of the things that we learn and do almost involuntarily, like hitting the brakes on seeing the red signal, happen because of the Cerebellum.
- Cognition- The cognitive functions of the Cerebellum are currently under study. It is believed that it plays a major role in controlling the attention span or learning a new language. It has also been associated with the most primitive emotions like fear and pleasure.
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