Cerebellum’s Role In Thought And Emotion

downloadNPR recently featured an amazing and fascinating story about Jonathan Keleher, a 33 year old man who was born with part of his brain missing. Keleher is one of a handful of people known to have lived their entire lives without a cerebellum, a structure that usually contains about half the brain’s neurons.

As a result of his exceedingly rare condition, Jonathan has a distinctive way of speaking and a walk that is slightly awkward. He also lacks the balance to ride a bicycle. However, this hasn’t kept him from living on his own, holding down an office job at a non-profit, an making a important contribution to neuroscience.

“What we now understand is what that cerebellum is doing to movement, it’s also doing to intellect and personality and emotional processing,” says Dr. Jeremy Schmahmann, a professor of neurology at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital

Without a cerebellum, Schmahmann says, a person’s thinking and emotions can become as clumsy as their movements.

Listen to the complete story below.

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