Welcome to this lesson on the cerebellum. Today, you are going to be learning about the role of the cerebellum and how to identify its location in the brain. Specifically, you will look at:
- The Hindbrain
- The Cerebellum
- The Brainstem
- The Midbrain
1. The Hindbrain
Recall that the human brain has a forebrain, a hindbrain, and a midbrain. The hindbrain is involved in coordinating movement and unconscious behaviors. It includes the cerebellum and the brainstem (pons and medulla oblongata).
1a. The Cerebellum
The main role of the cerebellum
is to coordinate voluntary movements. The cerebellum also has a role in coordinating motor activities, spatial awareness, timing, and planning. It is responsible for providing the timing needed for smooth, coordinated movements.
The cerebellum plays a key role in field sobriety tests because alcohol has a direct effect on the cerebellum. Somebody who gets pulled over by a police officer and has to take a field sobriety test--the police officer is actually measuring their cerebellar functions. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls your voluntary or your motor movements, so a person who is under the influence has inhibited coordination.
- A region of the hindbrain primarily responsible for coordinating voluntary movements
1b. The Brainstem
The brainstem connects to the spinal cord, so it's probably no surprise that the pons is involved in relaying messages from the forebrain to the cerebellum, as well as regulating breathing, bladder control, equilibrium, among many other functions. The medulla oblongata is also part of the brainstem and is involved in breathing, sneezing, vomiting, and other unconscious behaviors.
Take a look at a diagram of the brain below to help identify the different parts of the hindbrain.
- A structure found in the hindbrain that relays messages from the forebrain to the cerebellum, as well as dealing with breathing, equilibrium, bladder control, and many other functions
- Medulla Oblongata
- A structure found in the hindbrain that helps regulate unconscious behaviors such as breathing, digestion, and sneezing
The midbrain is a very small area of the brain that relays any sensory information to the forebrain. The midbrain acts as a liaison between other parts of the brain and the forebrain.
- A structure that relays sensory information to the forebrain
This lesson has been an overview of the functions of the hindbrain, which includes the cerebellum (coordinating voluntary movements) and the brainstem (including the pons and medulla oblongata), which regulate many unconscious behaviors. You also learned about the function of the midbrain, which acts as a go-between for the forebrain and other parts of the brain.
Keep up the learning and have a great day!