Essay on Cognitive Effects Of Cerebellar Dysfunction

1409 Words Nov 25th, 2016 6 Pages
Cognitive Effects of Cerebellar Dysfunction
The cerebellum is regarded as an essential neural structure for motor control. At a tenth of the brain’s volume, it contains the majority of neurons in the brain. Many cortical areas project into the primate cerebellum; these include the primary motor and prefrontal cortices. Damage to the cerebellum is known to result in impaired motor function. Patients with cerebellar lesions may exhibit ataxia, unbalanced gait; dysmetria, lack of coordination in the extremities; dysarthria, difficulty articulating speech; and other physical impairments. Finer motor functions such as the ability to saccade or even to swallow may be affected (c.f. Schmahmann, 2004). Convention has long held that the cerebellum, being one of the oldest brain structures, deals exclusively in motor control. However, research in the past few decades has produced evidence for cerebellar involvement in cognition. Lesions studies of patients with cerebellar damage reveal that, following the onset of their disorders, they experience decreases in cognitive functioning. Given this documentation of cognitive deficits associated with cerebellar dysfunction, researchers propose that the cerebellum participates in multiple brain functions, including motor control. Furthermore, researches have remarked that the cognitive changes in cerebellar patients are analogous to the salient motor symptoms that characterize their disorder (Schmahmann & Sherman, 1998; Akshoomoff &…

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