The physical reality of the “little brain” was apparent to the ancients; Aristotle in the fourth century BC wrote: “Behind, right at the back, comes what is termed the ‘cerebellum,’ differing in form from the brain as we may both feel and see” (transl. D’A. W. Thompson, 1908, p. 494b). Two millennia later, its firm consistency and neat foliate layering were known to occur in all vertebrates in contrast to the dissimilarities of the cerebrum among species: “But the cerebel it self ... is found almost in all Animals in the same figure and proportion, also made up of the same kind of labels or lappets ....” (Willis, 1681, p. 67). During the centuries between those two characterizations of the mammalian cerebellum, many pronouncements regarding its function were made based only on circumstantial evidence. The fatal outcome of occipital wounds was related to the contemporary belief that the cerebral ventricles were the dwelling of the animal spirits. The fourth ventricle was thought to be the most essential to life (see Chapter 3), and because of its position between the cerebellum and the medulla oblongata, this ventricle was considered a subordinate part of the cerebellum.
KeywordsCerebellar Cortex Medulla Oblongata Cerebellar Function Comparative Neurology Human Cerebellum
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