It amuses me how often neuroscientists alter their opinions on the functions of brain regions. Take the cerebellum, a lobe attached to the backside of your brain like a wrinkly old walnut. Early phrenologists in the nineteenth century, attributed this peculiar lump with sexual desire. They even went as far as saying that large cerebellums indicated sexual deviancy.
By the First World War, British neurologist, Gordon Holmes, redefined its importance. He noticed that soldiers with damaged cerebellums, lack fine motor skills, from balance issues to speech and eye movements. This theory persisted right into the mid nineteen-eighties, when advances in brain scans highlighted cerebellum activity in patients who were focused in thought. At the time, scientists such as Robert Barton, of Durham University, dismissed the finding as a neural signature derived from eye movement.
Now, the cerebellum is experiencing another moment in the spotlight. New scanning technology and advanced mapping tools have discovered that this little lobe is densely packed with regimented rows of Purkinje Cells, linked together by parallel fibres which connect to other critical regions of the brain. Narender Ramnani, of the Royal Holloway University, London, now thinks that these Purkinje Cells deliver error messages from the senses, which is then used to adjust responses based on learned data. In other words, they think it is a kind of processor. A prediction machine which combines sensory information and errors to predict a likely outcome. This result is then communicated back to the pre-frontal cortex, informing us of how to respond.
To add weight to this latest hypothesis, patients with socially acceptable interaction issues, such as ADHD and Schizophrenia, have been linked to changes in the cerebellum. Studies and trials are underway, using transcranial magnetic stimulation as a therapy for Schizophrenia. They even suggest that applying this kind of stimulus to healthy brains could aid a sustained concentration span.
I’m tempted to strap a couple of fridge magnets to my noggin, to see if it helps me with my writing. Having said that, electro-convulsive therapy was once used to treat hysterical female syndrome. I might leave it a few years to see if they change their minds again. I’ll stick with upping my caffeine intake instead.
Sam Nash is the author of the sci-fi conspiracy thriller, The Aurora Mandate. NOW AVAILABLE. Kindle: mybook.to/AuroraMandateor epub: books2read.com/u/meApQZ You can find her at https://www.samnash.org or on Twitter @samnashauthor or Facebook.com/samnash.author. Alternatively, you can download her free prequel novella series. Kindle: mybook.to/T-A-J-P01 ePub: books2read.com/u/4jwjJo