New research reveals that the cerebellum has a previously unknown function

By: April Carson



Scientists have discovered a new part of the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain. Given how complex the human body is, it's not surprising that we're still making new discoveries about its different parts.


Given that this brain region is critical for our movement control, it stands to reason that it also plays a key role in emotional experiences, both positive and negative.


This new discovery helps to explain why people with damage to the cerebellum often have difficulty regulating their emotions. It also opens up new avenues of research that could lead to better treatments for conditions like anxiety and depression.


Our brain is especially good at remembering emotional experiences, which helps us to remember times when we were in danger or celebrating a triumph. This is useful for our survival as a species.


The researchers conducting this study specifically wanted to see if the cerebellum had a hand in emotional memory recall, as it is already linked to fear conditioning. Fear conditioning is when an animal or person learns to associate a particular stimulus with danger.


The amygdala and hippocampus are typically thought of as the regions most responsible for consolidating emotional memories.


The goal of this study was to see if the cerebellum and its connections to other parts of the brain are involved in why some people have a better memory for information that is emotionally arousing.


The team administering the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans on 1,418 individuals as they sorted through emotional - some positive and negative, some neutral - images.


The researchers found that people who had a higher level of activity in the cerebellum were better able to remember emotional images.


From there, they were able to deduce that the cerebellum was involved in the process.


The study's participants remembered positive and negative images better than they did neutral ones, and this memory boost was linked to increased activity in the cerebellum.


"Our findings suggest that the cerebellum may play a role in emotional memory," said study author Ingrid Rundgren, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.


Interestingly, the researchers noticed improved communication between the cerebellum and the cerebrum. The latter is the biggest part of the brain; meanwhile, the former was receiving information from the anterior cingulate cortex (an area critical to sensing and evaluating emotions). Also, it was sharing data with both the amygdala and hippocampus. These structures are responsible for forming and storing memories.


"The current study is the first to demonstrate that the human cerebellum is involved in emotional memory," said Rundgren. "Our findings contribute to a better understanding of how we remember experiences, and may have implications for future research on psychiatric disorders characterized by deficits in emotional memory."


According to Dominique de Quervain, a neuroscientist from the University of Basel in Switzerland, "These results indicate that the cerebellum is an integral component of a network that is responsible for the improved storage of emotional information."


These findings could help us learn how to better repair our neural circuitry when something goes wrong, whether that be with incorrectly stored memories or excessively clear ones.


"The cerebellum has always been thought of as playing a role in motor control, but this study provides evidence that it is also involved in higher cognitive function," de Quervain said.


Too much focus on past painful experiences can have a negative impact on mental health, but the new research shows that there might be a way to help change that.


The researchers wrote that these findings expand on the role of the cerebellum in complex cognitive and emotional processes. This is significant because it may aid in understanding certain psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or autism spectrum disorder, which have abnormal emotional circuitry.


"The cerebellum has long been associated with motor control, but this study provides evidence that it is also involved in higher cognitive function," de Quervain said.


While more research needs to be done to understand how the cerebellum affects emotions and mental health, the new study provides a starting point for future investigations.


The study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.















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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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