Cerebellum

The cerebellum “weaves all sensory impulse into a homogenous fabric” and to it humanity “owes the possibility of [our] highest powers as expressed in [our] work, in sport, and in art”
— Neuroscientist Albert Abbie Arthur, 1934

Perception, Synchronized

Intersection of emotion, movement, creativity and cannabis.

The cerebellum performs a  “mind world” synchronization for our consciousness, meaning it takes our sensory data from the world and synthesizes the input into a mental schema to give us information about our environment. Our perceptual systems constantly tune themselves to our environment, the calibration of which takes place in the cerebellum. This perceptual data gives rise to emotions, the processing of which can be measured directly in the brain. Our neurons fire, and the cerebellum modulates or synchronizes these signals. (Francis Crick hypothesized that consciousness emerges when the firing of our brain neurons synchronize at approximately 40 Hz). 

Modulates Emotion

Emotion is data from our body’s processing of it’s own sensory experience. It's important to distinguish emotions from feelings.  Data from emotions proceeds feelings, and are physical. They can be measured via blood flow, activity in the brain and body language. Emotions are a biological reaction and originate from within the body & exist outside the mind. They proceed thought, are a result of our environment and what we experience within it. They are messages from the body about our experience. Emotions contain information about what is taking place in our environment.

In evolutionary terms, emotion could be considered the original sense of all living organisms due to its role in self-regulation of biological systems.  Biological regulatory systems of living systems stem from the function of regulatory signaling and motor control mechanisms.  These processes are comprised of stimulus/response relationships that can be considered a form of computation, or information processing in nature.  This information processing is present in all organisms from single-celled to simple forms to more complex organisms like humans.

Essentially, emotional sensations are “felt evaluations” of positive and negative stimulus that require a regulatory response.  Optimal homeostasis of an organism, or a deficiency can be derived from the binary system these signals represent. Emotion has been theorized to be a function of relevance detection and information signaling for resource mobilization and conservation.  Biological organization in evolution as being bottom-up system shows emotion as a primary sense. Perception arises via a process of inference, and is essentially a process of inference and analysis of probabilities. We assemble patterns in order to remain (in evolutionary terms) successful  organisms.

Sensory data often comes to us as incomplete, with lots of missing elements. The construction of stories is advantageous when we get partial information of a potential predator: growl, striped tail = tiger. Survive!) We need to be able to construct stories in order to stay alive and to thrive in our environments waiting for the whole picture to emerge in the case of a predator would not be sufficient. (Emotions and feeling also affect our memory, which we'll be learning about later). Our brains attempt to predict what is next, but is prone to mistakes.

An interesting aspect of the cerebellums involvement of emotional processing is the evaluation of negative (fear, sadness, anger & disgust) emotions that it performs. According to one model, the there are two discrete neural systems that exist in the cerebellum that exist to support emotional processing: one that operates at a conscious (explicit) level or awareness, and one on a unconscious level. The cerebellum performs a literal transfer of this emotional data from the right hemisphere to the left hemisphere, making our unconscious negative emotions recognized explicitly in our awareness. (Mental illness causes a loss of coherence in this processing). 

The cerebellum has an integral role in balancing emotionsas well as movement. It “fine tunes” our emotion the same way it governs precision of our motor coordination. 

Regulates movement

Interaction with our environment produces data that the cerebellum synchronizes, processes, and interprets. Our perception is the result of this organization. The physicality of experience comes through a sense called proprioception. Movement initiates in the somatisensory complex of the brain, but the cerebellum coordinates movement via feedback from our physical environment about what regulation needs to happen in order to keep our movements controlled and smooth and is specifically involved in creating novel and original movement patterns.

The sense that informs a body of the relative position of the joints and limbs of the body in space, and integrates movement, position and acceleration is proprioception.  In the context of sensorimotor psychotherapy, the level of proprioceptive processing is the “core organizer of experience”.

Somatic Knowing

Our bodies give rise to everything that is possible. Through our body, we gather all our data about our reality, and process it within our brain, the main node of our nervous system. Our Western culture has no tradition of a bodily life, and instead sees the world  split into two halves: a mental ,thought-driven existent that is separate from, and of superior value to that of the body. 

The more you work through the body as a medium, whether through your own somatic experience, or as a bodyworker such as a massage therapist or yoga teacher, the more aware you become that all of our mental, emotional & physical functions are inextricably tied. And quite literally they are through the physiology of our neurochemical processes. 

To gain somatic awareness is to embark on a journey to investigate the intangible essence that underlies and flow of reality. It inquires about one’s individual process as a human. It is to realize that we are empowered to shape ourselves, at a biochemical level, and also at a musculo-sketetal one as well. To change your mind, is to literally change the way your body functions.

As in the physiological model of emotional processing, that operates at a consciously (or unconsciously, there are two modes of proprioception. It is the unconscious type that is processed primarily in the cerebellum.

The physical release of emotion that often dissipates the emotional charge behind it was observed by Freud, who used to treat hysteria through having patients describe and speak of their physiological symptoms. (The Handbook of Body Psychotherapy and Somatic Psychology p. 49). Psychoanalysis, as a theory, was developed mainly as a response to his recognition of the connection between our bodies and our emotions and that when suppressed, unconscious emotion gets expressed physically, there is a release of the charge behind it.

As events and situations transpire, they are potentially encoded to our memory. Memories are essentially a physiological process, where the same neural circuits that were involved as the event occurred are accessed again, producing a retrieval. Memories with a strong emotional components get more significant tags from neurochemicals, as they are encoded, and when they do they stand a stronger chance at being retrieved later. Unconscious memories may be saccessed through music, as when that popular song form high school starts playing on the radio - and whisks you back to people, places and events you’d long forgotton; and also through movement. We typically conceive of this as happening exclusively in our brain, but muscle “memory” is a legitimate form of memory, where we emphasize it or not. 

Often referred to as the ‘reptilian brain’ , the cerebellum is not only our physical bridge of the dimensions of movement and creativity, and it is also where the highest density of cannabinoid receptors in the body reside (specifically CB1), and are expressed molecularly particularly highly in Parkinje cells. - whose role is to synchronize the rate of signaling within the cerebellum, which results directly in motor coordination. 

Interesting that the system whose role is to regulate the body’s processing is most highly expressed in the node central to the synchronization of our perception. 

The equilibrium, and ability to convert unconscious expressions of our emotional state are as a result of the same system, that modulates and regulates our motor control, and synthesizes these functions into art. This system that maintains homeostasis in our emotional, physical and creative lives is itself regulated by endocannabinoid system

 

 

 Sir Charles Scott Sherrington coined the term proprioception, and advanced our understanding of the sense we have of our body’s location in space. It was his conclusion that the cerebellum was the main organ that controlled our movement. 

Sir Charles Scott Sherrington coined the term proprioception, and advanced our understanding of the sense we have of our body’s location in space. It was his conclusion that the cerebellum was the main organ that controlled our movement.