The human brain is a marvel in itself, that single-handedly carries out many functions of the body. The development of the brain has helped man become the most advanced being on the planet. A part of the nervous system, it is divided into various parts, the cerebellum being one of them. Each area of the brain performs a specific function, and the cerebellum has a specific function to perform as well.
The cerebellum is one of the most underestimated parts of the human brain. Its function involves the regulation and coordination of movement, and posture. The term 'cerebellum' is Latin for 'little brain'. It is located behind the brain stem right at the bottom of the brain. It has a large mass of cerebral cortex above and a portion of the brain stem, that is, pons in the front. The cerebellum is divided into two hemispheres, and has a cortex that surrounds these hemispheres.
The first and foremost function of the cerebellum is organizing the complex information received by the brain. The cerebellum receives information from the inner ear, sensory nerves, and the auditory visual system. It coordinates the motor movements and also the basic memory and learning processes.
It also plays a very important role in the coordination of voluntary motor movement, balance, equilibrium, and muscle tone. If there is any traumatic brain injury or brain cancer, its function may go haywire. It causes slow and uncoordinated movements in the body, therefore, people with cerebellum lesions sway and stagger while they walk. Damage to cerebellum may lead to many problems in an individual. These problems affect the brain as follows:
- Asynergia: This is loss of coordination of motor movement.
- Dysmetria: The person finds it difficult to judge distance and when to stop.
- Adiadochokinesia: This is a condition where the person is unable to perform rapid alternating movements.
- Intention tremor: The patient may suffer from tremors while performing certain movements.
- Ataxic gait: Staggering and swaying while walking.
- Hypotonia: Development of weak muscles.
- Ataxic dysarthria: Development of slurred speech.
- Nystagmus: Abnormal eye movements.
Cerebellum Function Test
There are certain neurological tests carried out to check the functions of the cerebellum. The tests carried out generally are as follows:
- Finger-Nose-Finger: The examiner points a finger and the patient needs to follow the path of the finger with his nose. This test will help indicate dysmetria, intentional tremor, and overshooting target.
- Alternating hand movements.
- Romberg test
- Gait test
- Vestibular exam