The Cerebellum in Feeding Control: Possible Function and Mechanism

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Abstract

Accumulating anatomical, functional, and behavioral studies reveal that the cerebellum is involved in the regulation of various visceral functions including feeding control. Cerebellar lesions may induce alterations in feeding behavior and decreases in body weight. Although the exact mechanisms underlying the cerebellar regulation of food intake is still unclear, a series of studies have demonstrated that there are neural pathways directly and/or indirectly connecting the cerebellum with several important centers for feeding control, such as the hypothalamus. Electrophysiological data suggest that via the direct cerebellohypothalamic projections, the cerebellar outputs may reach, converge, and be integrated with some critical feeding signals including gastric vagal afferents, CCK, leptin, and glycemia on single hypothalamic neurons. Furthermore, recent functional imaging studies provide substantial evidences that hunger, satiation, and thirst are accompanied with a cerebellar activation. Here we describe that the cerebellum may be much more than a movement coordinator and actively participate in feeding control, i.e., it may act as an essential node linking somatic and visceral systems and help to generate an integrated and coordinated somatic-visceral response in feeding behavior.

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