Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Large surface area of human cerebellum suggests a role in evolution of our behaviours and cognition

27 September 2020

Fold Here

Cramming two metres of DNA into a cell’s nucleus seems a great way of using space, but its 3D organisation also brings important genes closer together. There is, perhaps, something similar going on in the undulating folds of the human cerebellum, recreated here from high-resolution MRI scans with its 'crests' highlighted in green and dipped regions in red. These bunched up ‘folia’ give the cerebellum a surface area equal to 80% of the brain’s entire cerebral cortex, yet neatly folded at the base of the brain. Researchers know regions of the cerebellum communicate with different body parts, mapped out by a process called somatotopy. The next question is if important brain regions are brought closer in the intricate folds, potentially allowing communication with different parts of the body at the same time. This might explain how the cerebellum multi-tasks to coordinate our senses, emotions, thoughts and movement.

Written by John Ankers

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