The Cerebellum: Brain for an Implicit Self is written by one of the preeminent neuroscientists in cerebellar research. Dr. Masao Ito has been at the forefront of much of the early work on cerebellar neuronal structure and function. In this text, Dr. Ito leads the reader on a historical journey of the cerebellum presented from his own personal experiences and scientific endeavors over more than 50 years of science. He summarizes his own discoveries, as well as those of other scientists. His scientific approach and that of this monograph is one of deconstruction and reconstruction. He applies that approach in the book – decomposing and recomposing the cerebellum to gain a full understanding of the mechanisms and functions of this cortical structure.
Dr. Ito begins by breaking the cerebellum down, describing the core neuronal components and synaptic plasticity of the cerebellum. He presents the early conceptualization and understanding of the cerebellum in functioning, which has historically involved primarily coordinated motor control. Dr. Ito then proceeds to systematically build the cerebellum back up from its neural base by presenting a summary of the early discoveries that have advanced the neuroscience of the cerebellum and lead to understanding of function. Extensive descriptions of neuronal network/circuits, reflexes, adaptation, and voluntary control are presented. Dr. Ito offers some insight into the role of the cerebellum in cognition, but in less depth than other topics.
Dr. Ito presents a wide scope of topics associated with cerebellar anatomy and function that is detailed, yet readable. Each chapter leads seamlessly into the next and the story of the cerebellum unfolds as the reader proceeds through the book. Dr. Ito's extensive experience in this field is evident, as is his passion for his work. The title of the book sets the tone for Dr. Ito's current conceptualization of the cerebellum—one of unconscious adaptation—for not only motor movements, but also higher order cognitive functions, or some combination of the two.
This book is an excellent companion to Dr. Schmahmann's classic 1997 text The Cerebellum and Cognition. Dr. Schmahmann's book included writing from experts across a wide range of cerebellar function as related to mental control and processes, including executive functions and higher order language production. His presentation of the historical context and anatomy are expanded in Dr. Ito's text, with a broader focus. A more extensive discussion and presentation of cellular-level anatomy and functions, as well as core cerebellar-based functions supporting neurocognitive processes is presented in this book. Each of these authors has clearly produced a text that focuses primarily on their respective areas of expertise and interest, and again, makes them complimentary.
Neuropsychologists and cognitive neuroscientists should consider this a key text for review. While the frontal lobes have remained the focus in considering function and dysfunction in higher order cognitive processes, increasing evidence points to a complimentary role of the cerebellum in these functions (Schmahmann, 2010; Stoodley et al., 2012), and increased understanding and consideration of the cerebellum and its mechanisms may provide a more enhanced and complete conceptualization of presenting problems in clinical populations. Chapter 17, Cognitive Functions, is one of the most clinically useful portions of the book. The discussion of internal mental models and how these models relate to the role of the cerebellum in neurocognitive processes serves as an excellent foundation for conceptualization in clinical practice. These representations are real or imagined situations, which allows an individual to reason and anticipate future events.
Dr. Ito closes the book by proposing seven questions he considers crucial in guiding future cerebellar neuroscientific research. Key areas for future analysis that he proposes include molecular, cellular, curcuitry, and behavioral research. Dr. Ito creates an atmosphere of excitement around the cerebellum that is likely to stimulate and excite junior and senior neuroscientists and clinicians alike.