cerebellum

The cerebellum, or “little brain,” refines your body’s functions through tasks like balance, coordination, posture, and motor learning. Essentially, the cerebellum does not initiate movement, but manages it.

Located at the base of the brain between the cerebral cortex and pons, this “little brain” is believed to also control cognitive functions like attention and language, and the regulation of fear and pleasure responses.

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How Does the Cerebellum Work?

The cerebellum receives information from the sensory systems, spinal cord, and other parts of the brain, and uses it to coordinate movements.

Can You Live Without the Cerebellum?

Yes; rare conditions such as cerebellar hypoplasia and cerebellar agenesis result in a smaller or nonexistent cerebellum.

What is cerebellar hypoplasia?

Cerebellar hypoplasia is an embryonic disorder that leads to a diminished or missing cerebellum. The condition may be genetic, or it can occur from external influences such as:

  • Drugs
  • Chemicals
  • Infections
  • Stroke

It is sometimes associated with other disorders including Dandy-Walker syndrome, Walker-Warburg syndrome, CASK Gene Mutation and spinal muscular atrophy.

What is cerebellar agenesis?

There have been a total of ten cases of cerebellar agenesis, a rare condition where the brain develops without a cerebellum. The patients are still mobile because movement is actually handled by the motor cortex, but lack the poise provided by the cerebellum. The condition is usually discovered post-mortem because the rest of the brain compensates to mask the lack of a cerebellum. The disadvantages include developmental delays, language deficits and neurological abnormalities, but often cerebellar agenesis patients’ movements improve with age.

Interested in learning more about how the brain functions? Check out our Get to Know The Parts of Your Brain article!

About Neurosurgery

The UPMC Department of Neurosurgery is the largest academic neurosurgical provider in the United States. We perform more than 11,000 procedures each year. We treat conditions of the brain, skull base, spine, and nerves, including the most complex disorders. Whether your condition requires surgery or not, we strive to provide the most advanced, complete care possible. Our surgeons are developing new techniques and tools, including minimally invasive treatments. U.S. News & World Report ranks neurology and neurosurgery at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as among the best in the country. We also rank among the top neurosurgery departments in the U.S. for National Institutes of Health funding, a benchmark in research excellence.