Kebschull JM, Casoni F, Consalez GG, Goldowitz D, Hawkes R, Ruigrok TJH, Schilling K, Wingate R, Wu J, Yeung J, Uusisaari MY (2023) Cerebellum Lecture: the Cerebellar Nuclei-Core of the Cerebellum. Cerebellum

The cerebellum is a key player in many brain functions and a major topic of neuroscience research. However, the cerebellar nuclei (CN), the main output structures of the cerebellum, are often overlooked. This neglect is because research on the cerebellum typically focuses on the cortex and tends to treat the CN as relatively simple output nuclei conveying an inverted signal from the cerebellar cortex to the rest of the brain. In this review, by adopting a nucleocentric perspective we aim to rectify this impression. First, we describe CN anatomy and modularity and comprehensively integrate CN architecture with its highly organized but complex afferent and efferent connectivity. This is followed by a novel classification of the specific neuronal classes the CN comprise and speculate on the implications of CN structure and physiology for our understanding of adult cerebellar function. Based on this thorough review of the adult literature we provide a comprehensive overview of CN embryonic development and, by comparing cerebellar structures in various chordate clades, propose an interpretation of CN evolution. Despite their critical importance in cerebellar function, from a clinical perspective intriguingly few, if any, neurological disorders appear to primarily affect the CN. To highlight this curious anomaly, and encourage future nucleocentric interpretations, we build on our review to provide a brief overview of the various syndromes in which the CN are currently implicated. Finally, we summarize the specific perspectives that a nucleocentric view of the cerebellum brings, move major outstanding issues in CN biology to the limelight, and provide a roadmap to the key questions that need to be answered in order to create a comprehensive integrated model of CN structure, function, development, and evolution.

Pubmed: 36781689