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The Cerebellum is the best treasure of the brain: Neuroscience and Physical Exercise

November 8, 2011
The Cerebellum and Movement

The Cerebellum and Movement

I remember reading this fascinating study a while back and my jaw dropped: The article it is titled: “The Treasure at the Bottom of the Brain by Henrietta C. Leiner and Alan L. Leiner“. According to the Authors: “One of the most incredible parts of the human brain, it is named the cerebellum and science has been underestimating it for centuries. Located at the lower back of the brain. Formerly this structure was thought to have only a motor function, which it performed by helping other motor regions of the brain to do their work effectively. But during the past decade a broader view of its function has emerged as a result of new research, and now the cerebellum is regarded as a structure that can help not only motor but also nonmotor regions to do their work effectively. In fact, the cerebellum has been compared to a powerful computer, capable of making contributions both to the motor dexterity and to the mental dexterity of humans, both of which are required for the emergence of fluent human language” for more click here

The Cerebellum it is to be considered to be an absolute machine  in the back of the brain. The Cerebellum is  one of the most impressive parts of the human brain and it  has been underestimated by scientists till now. In my book Super Body, Super Brain I explain how this part of the brain can be key to unlock on the most important human quests that is how the brain interacts with the body. Evidence is mounting showing how this structure it is absolute key for our health, aging even our intelligence!

Did you know that our brain has 100 billion neurons and 50% of them are packed in just 10% of the brain mass? Do you know where are they packed? In the bottom of the brain in a part of the brain called the cerebellum. If you are really good at math you will realize how 50% of your neurons are located in just 10% of your brain mass.

However neurons in the Cerebellum are really different from the neurons in the rest of the brain. My absolute mentor Dr John H. Martin Ph.D and Author of Neuroanatomy: Text and Atlas  has explained me how this interesting motor circuits work and how the cerebellum plays a fundamental role.

Why are the neurons called Purkinje  in the Cerebellum so different? Are they better or worse? According to Dr John H. Martin Ph.D who has studied the Development of the motor systems of the brain and spinal cord and currently he is Professor at City College in New York  “I think they are different in several ways. Let me tell you about two. First, they take in an enormous amount of information. Think of a big tree with lots of branches and leaves. This is like a Purkinje cell; the branches and leaves are receiving information from other parts of the nervous system. They have more “branches and leaves” than other nerve cells. Second, they are different in another way; they inhibit the firing of other neurons.  Most neurons that receive so much information excite other neurons; Purkinje cells inhibit. We don’t know why this is the case “

Cerebellum and Movement

Cerebellum exercises

Cerebellum exercise

The cerebellum (Latin for little brain) is a region of the brain that plays an important role in movement. It is also involved in some cognitive functions such as attention and language, and probably in some emotional functions  but it is its function in movement that is most clearly researched. The cerebellum does not initiate movement, but it contributes to coordination, precision, and muscle timing. It receives input from sensory systems and from other parts of the brain and spinal cord. in addition other functions involve equilibrium, posture alignment and execution.

The Cerebellum is responsible not just for planning and intent, but also for making sure that whatever we have planned and intended to do match! I know it is easy to say but the process in the brain it is extremely complicated.

CEREBELLUM STRUCTURE

The Cerebellum has three different parts. Why are these parts so important?

Each part contributes something different to the overall function of the cerebellum and the motor system. One for posture and balance, one for coordinating movements of our arms and legs, and a third for helping us to plan our movements.

THE CEREBELLUM AND THE SENSORY SYSTEM

Sensory Proprioceptors

Sensory Proprioceptors

The Cerebellum receives information form the sensory systems—the somatic sensory system as well as the other major senses and cortical control centers. How is that related to muscle movement?

How important is sensory information when it comes to movement.

According to Dr Martin “Movements are adapted to the goals at hand; movements are purposeful. To make movements effective, they are fine-tuned to the environment. For this to happen we need the help of the sensory systems. When we reach for a water bottle, we need to see where it is, precisely. When we step, we need to make sure where the ground is. This occurs because the sensory systems communicate with the motor systems. The cerebellum receives a lot of sensory information, but its job is not just a passive receiver. It needs to figure out what aspects of sensation are important for controlling movements”

CEREBELLUM EXERCISES: 

1. From a standing position raise left leg and clap overhead for twenty times then change legs. Then close one eye, change eyes, close both.

2. From a standing position raise opposite arm and leg raise. Do it ten times

3. Lunges with balance and Shoulder lateral raise.  Lunge position raise arms and left leg simultaneously. Do it ten times then change legs.

Write down the experiences after doing these exercises.

CEREBELLUM EXERCISE :BALANCE, COORDINATION, PLANNING AND TIMING

To see these exercises and many more check out my book Super Body, Super Brain

Exercise involving Cerebellum functions: balance, coordination, intentional movement and planning. From Body Smart click here to see this exercise

Michael Gonzalez-Wallace next to a giant Cerebellum at The Brain Exhibit Natural Science Museum New York

Michael Gonzalez-Wallace next to a giant Cerebellum at The Brain Exhibit Natural Science Museum New York

Neuroscience and Physical Exercise-Studies

Neuroscience and Physical Exercise-Studies


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Trackbacks

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