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Grey Power

Detailed understanding of how neurons of the cerebellum contribute to motor and social behaviours

03 June 2023

Grey Power

At the back of your skull, about level with your ears, sits your cerebellum. It's only the size of a Mars bar, but it contains more neurons than the rest of your brain combined. For a long time, scientists thought the cerebellum was primitive, only controlling how the body moves, but recent work has shown it's more complex. Here, we see a slice of a mouse cerebellum highlighting nuclei neurons (black) important for motor control. Researchers showed that if these cells can't signal, mice develop severe movement problems. However, the brain compensates for this damage, so adult mice show few symptoms. In contrast, neurons in the cerebellar cortex seem to control social behaviours instead of movement, and the brain can't compensate for their damage. These results reveal the surprising complexity of the cerebellum and help us better understand how the brain copes with damage before birth.

Written by Henry Stennett

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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