Study: Brain areas help movement in dark

PARIS, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Researchers in France say they've discovered two separate areas of the brain work together to allow us to navigate safely in the dark.

Scientists at Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris said mouse studies suggested the cerebellum, an area of the brain known to control motor learning, can work in concert with the hippocampus, where the brain creates mental maps, to allow us to walk down a hallway in the dark without stubbing our toes.


"We never knew that the cerebellum and hippocampus communicated," researcher Christelle Rochefort told

The new finding reveals there are networks in the brain that haven't yet been explored, the researchers said.

"It seems that there is some crosstalk between the two structures," research team leader Laure Rondi-Reig said.

The scientists say the crosstalk is mediated by a brain enzyme that helps strengthen neurons in the cerebellum involved in processing self-motion cues such as balance, the relative movement of body parts and depth perception.

"It's something that's not conscious, contrary to how we might think we navigate," she says. "We can get around without cues from the external world. There's so much more going on in our cerebellum to control our body movement that we don't even think about."


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