The cerebellum is a fundamental part of the brain for human life, but is it essential? Until now it was thought so, but apparently we were wrong. That is at least what the case of a Chinese woman who has discovered that she does not have a cerebellum demonstrates.
The doctors made the finding after the young woman underwent tests as a result of vomiting and dizziness that had been coming for a long time.
The cerebellum regulates motor skills and is related to learning, cognition, attention and even language. Therefore, it is assumed that a person with damage to this organ will have serious difficulties when it comes to walking and talking, for example.
In the case of the Chinese woman, although she did not change walking alone until she was seven years old and her speech was not coherent until she was six, she has hardly suffered disorders associated with the absence of the cerebellum. In addition, when she reached 24 years of age, she has become a mother.
The case has happened to the medical community.
According to the publication Brain Most of the patients in whom this anomaly has been found are children who, due to these alterations, have never reached adulthood.
How is it possible to live so long without a cerebellum?
The cerebellum is an extremely important neurological organ, its name means «little brain» in Latin, and it is responsible for coordinating fine movements, such as those of the tongue and mouth, important for articulation and speaking, as well as for grab things and walk.
Normally people with damage in this area are very weak in their motor skills.
However, the case of this young woman needs only slight problems in her movements as well as her ability to speak. How is this possible?
«This case illustrates that brain circuits are even more flexible than we thought. Despite the fact that the cerebellum is the structure in the brain that contains the largest number of neurons, the brain as a whole can work without it, with relatively little few symptoms,» neurologist Mario Manto, from the Free University of Brussels (ULB), told BBC Mundo.
According to Manto, it demonstrates «how the cerebral system works by compensating for the missing parts,» especially in the face of certain anomalies that can occur from birth.
In the opinion of experts, it is very likely that this capacity decreases with age.
Although this is not the first recorded case of a person born without a cerebellum, the previous ones concerned children and babies who showed severe mental deterioration, epilepsy and other structural problems of the brain that usually led to death.
Manto said that «more research is needed to establish the causes of this rare disorder.»