Rhythms are a ubiquitous and essential element of animal life as they provide the temporal scaffold for survival critical behaviors, such as breathing, walking, chewing, and swallowing. These rhythms are not independent but well-coordinated. Breathing and swallowing rhythms, for example, are precisely coordinated to prevent parandial aspiration. Rhythms, in form of network oscillations, also introduce a precise temporal structure in brain activity. Neuronal activity in brains throughout the animal kingdom generate rhythms believed to be essential for both motor and cognitive functions. Like motor rhythms, these neuronal rhythms are not independent. Precise temporal coordination of neuronal oscillations has been observed in numerous experiments and shown to be linked to the performance of motor and cognitive tasks. Specifically, the precise phase alignment (coherence) of oscillations between two or more brain structures has been suggested as a mechanism to optimize neuronal communication between structures in a task specific way. We have long been interested in the role of the cerebellum as a coordinator of motor rhythms and more recently began to focus on investigation a potential cerebellar involvement in the coordination of neuronal rhythms. I will present evidence supporting a cerebellar involvement in the coordination of rhythmic movements and of neuronal oscillations in the cerebral cortex and will discuss the implications of our findings for cerebellar cognitive functions.
Laurens Bosman, Chris de Zeeuw