The corticopontine pathway and the cerebellum

There is a major projection from the cortex to the pontine nuclei. The extent to which individual cortical areas contribute to this pathway varies. The greatest projection comes from the regions around the central sulcus, which also contribute to the pyramidal tract (see below). However, there is a substantial projection from the prefrontal cortex, and a significant number of fibres from the occipital lobe. Many fewer corticopontine axons arise from temporal neocortex, although some areas send some and it is possible that most areas send at least a few.

The pontine nuclei send their axons to the cerebellar cortex of the lateral parts of the posterior lobe. They terminate as mossy fibres, contacting granule cells. Axon collaterals pass, in addition, to the lateral dentate deep cerebellar nucleus. The anterior lobe and the midline and paramedian region of the posterior lobe are related to the spinocerebellar inputs. The flocculonodular lobe is connected to the vestibular pathway. The Purkinje cells of the cerebellar cortex send inhibitory fibres to the deep cerebellar nuclei, and it is from these that the output of the cerebellum arises. The intermediate (globose and emboliform) and medial (fastigial) deep nuclei project to the red nucleus and the vestibular nuclei and reticular formation. The dentate nucleus projects to the posterior part of the ventral lateral nucleus of the thalamus. This in turn provides the major thalamic input to the primary motor cortex of the precentral gyrus. In this way, the neocortical input to the cerebellum via the pontine nuclei is transmitted, via the thalamus, to the motor cortex.

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