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What is the Cerebellum?

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tucked away in the back of your brain is

one of the densest structures in the

brain it makes up only 1/10 of the brain

but it contains more than half of its

cells it's called the cerebellum and it

is an ancient and universal structure

found in songbirds and electric fish and

in all vertebrates humans and other

primates have a particularly

well-developed cerebellum and scientists

know that it helps to coordinate our

movements damage to the cerebellum can

make it difficult to button your shirt

or even walk in a straight line but

recent research is starting to reveal

other roles for the cerebellum beyond

movement it seems to be involved in

advanced cognitive functions like

learning how to make a decision imagine

a student driver learning to push the

brake with their foot when they see a

red light the cerebellum seems to be

involved in forming this association to

test this idea

scientists at Columbia's Zukerman

Institute set up an experiment they

trained animals to respond to specific

symbols with specific movements the

scientists found that some cells in the

cerebellum changed their activity as the

animals learned these associations even

though the animals movements didn't

change this was the first direct

evidence that the cerebellum is involved

in this kind of complex learning

scientists have just begun to explore

the cerebellum and everything it can do

and this could help us to understand

brain disorders like autism that have

been linked to abnormalities in the

cerebellum

you