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Int Rev Neurobiol. 1997;41:489-513.

Control of sensory data acquisition.

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California Institute of Technology, Division of Biology, Pasadena 91125, USA.


This chapter describes a new theory of cerebellar function which posits that the cerebellum is specifically involved in monitoring and adjusting the acquisition of most of the sensory data on which the rest of the nervous system depends. If correct, the cerebellum is not itself responsible for any particular behaviorally related function, whether "motor," "sensory," or "cognitive." Instead the cerebellum facilitates the efficiency with which other brain structures perform their own functions. In this way the cerebellum is seen as being useful but not necessary for many different kinds of brain functions. This chapter describes how this theory of cerebellar function has arisen from detailed study of the pattern of tactile afferent projections to the rat cerebellum as well as from an analysis of the neural circuitry that processes that information. It is proposed that the breadth of cerebellar involvement is reflected in the growing number of tasks which induce cerebellar activity, including cognitive tasks, even though the cerebellum is not itself directly involved in those tasks.

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