Description: Quick pop-quiz! What does the cerebellum do? It is involved in producing smooth motor movement right (balance, equilibrium etc.)? Yes, right, but what else is it involved in? Well, how about schizophrenia? As our understanding of the neurological factors involved in psychological functions and dysfunctions expands we are increasingly realizing more clearly something neuroscientists have been telling us for years…. that our brains are not full of many hyper-specialized processing centers (e.g., a mood center, a decision center, a social processing center etc). Rather, areas of the brain work together to produce complex human behaviour or dysfunction together to produce the symptoms of complex human disorders such as schizophrenia. So, how is the cerebellum involved in the symptoms of schizophrenia, well read the linked article below to find out.
Source: Brain stimulation improves schizophrenia-like cognitive problems, ScienceDaily.
Date: March 28, 2017
Links: Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170328132228.htm
So if losses in the ability to track and modulate time in relation to brain activities is a part of what happens in schizophrenia then finding out how the brain monitors and manages time and how we might intervene and adjust this process might be important in our understanding and treatment of schizophrenia. The work described in the article linked above suggests that the cerebellum might play a role in time managing brain events. Rats showing schizophrenia-like symptoms showed substantial improvement in functioning when the cerebellum areas of their brains were stimulated. Understanding just how the brain functions that are impaired or lost in schizophrenia are managed in “normally functioning” individuals take us a long way towards understanding this complex disorder and eventually towards devising treatments or perhaps even cures for the disorder.
Questions for Discussion:
- What functions does the cerebellum serve in relation to how we move around in the environment?
- How might the timing of mental events (as in how they are temporally managed) matter in relation to the pattern of symptoms we recognize as reflecting schizophrenia?
- What are some of the treatment/management implications of cerebellum stimulation in schizophrenics? What else must be done before we can get beyond the rat models used in the study described in the linked article to understand and potentially treat schizophrenia?
References (Read Further):
K L Parker, Y C Kim, R M Kelley, A J Nessler, K-H Chen, V A Muller-Ewald, N C Andreasen, N S Narayanan. Delta-frequency stimulation of cerebellar projections can compensate for schizophrenia-related medial frontal dysfunction. Molecular Psychiatry, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2017.50
Carroll, C. A., O’donnell, B. F., Shekhar, A., & Hetrick, W. P. (2009). Timing dysfunctions in schizophrenia as measured by a repetitive finger tapping task. Brain and cognition, 71(3), 345-353. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2783288
Alústiza, I., Radua, J., Pla, M., Martin, R., & Ortuño, F. (2017). Meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of timing and cognitive control in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: Evidence of a primary time deficit. Schizophrenia Research.
Giersch, A., Lalanne, L., & Isope, P. (2016). Implicit Timing as the Missing Link between Neurobiological and Self Disorders in Schizophrenia?. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4913093/