Introduction: The Cerebellum and its Disorders in the Dawn of the Molecular Age

  • Andreas Plaitakis
Part of the Foundations of Neurology book series (FONY, volume 2)


The study of the cerebellum has a long and fascinating history, spanning many centuries. As Dow describes in his detailed historical review of cerebellar investigation [1], the Greek physician Herophilus (335–200 BC), known as the “father of anatomy,” is generally credited for recognizing the human cerebellum as a distinct brain division. About two millienna later, Sir Thomas Willis (1621–1675) made comparative anatomical observations drawing attention to the characteristic morphologic appearance of the cerebellum in vertebrates. It seems that these observations stimulated interest in understanding the functional role of the cerebellum, which, until then, had remained obscure. It was, however, Luigi Rolando (1773–1831) who began a new era in cerebellar research by developing ablation experiments in an effort to understand the function of this brain area. Based on this work, he correctly suggested that the cerebellum is involved in motor control. Such ablation techniques, along with the subsequently developed stimulation methods, have served as basic experimental tools for understanding the cerebellar physiology for almost two centuries.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Cerebellar Degeneration Paraneoplastic Cerebellar Degeneration Cerebellar Disorder Olivopontocerebellar Atrophy 
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  1. 1.
    Dow R.S., Moruzzi G. (1958). The Physiology and Pathology of the Cerebellum. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

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  • Andreas Plaitakis

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