March 8, 2018

The Relation Between Motor Skills, Academia, and the Cerebellum

The role of the cerebellum has long thought to be responsible solely for motor functions and muscular activity, but a study from The University of Jyväskylä in Finland might soon change that.

In a study of 174 Finnish children, researchers found that students with better motor skills often ended up with higher scores in reading and arithmetic and that children in the lowest third of motor performance had dramatically lower performance on the same tests. The study was published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

This is further evidence of the writings of Christopher Bergland, an author, athlete, coach, and political advocate. Bergland believes that the cerebellum is responsible for more than just your motor functions. In the articles that Bergland publishes through Psychology Today, he claims that the cerebellum may also be responsible for thought and emotion.

While the cerebellum only makes up 10% of the brain, it contains more than 50% of the brain’s neurons. So it would make sense for the cerebellum to be responsible for more than just motor skills, but the science community’s knowledge of the cerebellum is still in its relative infancy.

Bergland believes that there are four hemispheres of the brain, the left and right of the cerebrum and the left and right of the cerebellum, and he believes that all four hemispheres of the brain need to work in tandem for optimal brain function. When all four hemispheres are working together in synchronicity, he refers to it as “superfluidity,” because it represents absolutely zero friction between thought, action, and emotion.

That’s where the Finnish study comes in. While it is generally understood, in science, that correlation does not equal causation, correlation does indicate the need for further study. In the Finnish study, there is a distinct correlation between motor function and academic learning, even though conventional knowledge says that the two should be unrelated. This is important because physical education and activity is declining among children in the United States, and if the link found in the study is more than just mere correlation, that could result in academic decline, as well, if physical education isn’t once again made a priority in schools.

Further study needs to be done to determine the full role of the cerebellum, and whether it’s responsible for more than just muscle activity or if it also controls emotions or thought. Because if the cerebellum is responsible for more than what we currently know, an advanced understanding may shed light on issues and conditions previously thought untreatable or irreversible and could provide new information that is vital to neurologists and mental health professionals.




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