The Cerebellum is the part of the brain that is responsible for our motor functions, such as walking and writing. It is also being currently researched for participation in other functions such as regulating fear and pleasure, as well as cognitive functions such as attention and language.
Even though the cerebellum is part of the brain, it looks like a separate part because it is found underneath the cerebral hemispheres and it is attached to a separate structure. It also has a different pattern than that of the rest of the brain, because the other parts have large, wavy irregular lines and the cerebellum has fine parallel grooves that are evenly spaced.
Because of the location of the cerebellum, it is more protected than the rest of the cerebral cortex.
For years, people thought that the cerebellum was useful only in the motor skills that we acquire through our lives; but today, it is being re-evaluated. The cerebellum is now slowly being recognized as being part of a more complicated task in helping the rest of the brain run the body, and that includes non-motor skills as well. Not only can it contribute to the motor dexterity of the body, but it has also been found to be able to contribute to the mental dexterity of the brain.
The function of the cerebellum has been compared to that of a computer’s. This is because a computer can process data being fed to it and can influence both the hardware and the software that is attached to it. The cerebellum works in the same way. It actually contains more nerve cells combined than is found in the rest of the brain. It also works faster in processing information and functions more than any other part of the brain. What has actually astounded scientists about the cerebellum is that it can actually handle as much as 40 times more fibers than the rest of the brain, processing more information but still running the rest of the body as well.
But aside from theories that are still being researched on, it is fully understood that without the cerebellum, people would not even be able to walk. This is because it is responsible not only for our motor functions, but for our balance and eye movements as well. The development of hand-eye coordination is due largely to the ability of the cerebellum to do so, so the entire sporting and athletic industry actually owes its existence to the cerebellum.
Disorders or damage that affect the cerebellum result in people having a hard time controlling their motor functions. Other symptoms include poor muscle tone, movement decomposition, dysmetria (which is the impairment of the ability to control the distance), power and speed of an act, as well as the sudden onset of an abnormal pattern of walking. There have even been some drastic cases wherein people lost all ability to control their actions. Some of the causes of these disorders are things like alcohol abuse, structural lesions on the cerebellum itself, stroke, multiple sclerosis, genetics, or even congenital anomalies.