Cerebellum Model

Computational Brain Modeling At IBM Research

active-dates: mid 2006

The human cerebellum contains half of all neurons in the brain but only one tenth of its volume. Some diagrams from Gray's Anatomy, 1918:

Cerebellum diagram from Gray's Anatomy, 1918
Cerebellum diagram from Gray's Anatomy, 1918

In the summer of 2006 I interned with IBM Research at the TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. I worked with the Biometaphorical Computing Research group. My project was to take an idea for a novel cerebellum model (designed by Charles Peck, my mentor and group leader), implement it in software, and test its capabilities on various motor learning and conditioning tasks. See Peck et al 2007 and these posters for more details:

Poster for the Summer 2006 IBM Research intern poster session
Poster for the 2006 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

The following plots show the change in activity of various model components during learning:

Offloading a simple associative learning task from basal ganglia to cerebellum
Offloading a simple associative learning task from basal ganglia to cerebellum
Offloading reaching movements from basal ganglia to cerebellum using a simulated arm model
Offloading reaching movements from basal ganglia to cerebellum using a simulated arm model

The video below is a visual demonstration of the model learning to control an articulated arm with 6 distinct muscles. Note how, at the beginning, the basal ganglia provide most of the control signal, but over time the cerebellum learns the reaching task, offloading most of the work from the basal ganglia.