What is the Difference Between Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum

The main difference between basal ganglia and cerebellum is that the basal ganglia send reward-based learning guided by the signals from the midbrain whereas the cerebellum sends supervision-based learning guided by the signals from the inferior olive.

Generally, the basal ganglia and cerebellum are two structures that pass the neuronal signals to the thalamus. Both occur in the sub-cortex of the brain.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Basal Ganglia
– Definition, Structure, Function
2. What is Cerebellum
– Definition, Structure, Function
3. Similarities Between Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum
– Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Basal Ganglia, CerebellumBasal Ganglia and Cerebellum - Comparison Summary

What are Basal Ganglia

Basal ganglia are a subgroup of subcortical nuclei that occur in the brain of vertebrates. They are located at the base of the forebrain and the top of the midbrain. Basal ganglia connect the cerebral cortex, thalamus, brainstem, and several other brain areas. In addition, they perform a variety of functions including the control of voluntary movements, habit learning, procedural learning, conditional learning, eye movements, emotion, and cognition.

Compare Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum

Figure 1: Basal Ganglia

Furthermore, the dorsal striatum, ventral striatum, globus pallidus, ventral pallidum, subthalamic nucleus, and substantia nigra are the components of the basal ganglia. Among those, the striatum is the largest component of the basal ganglia. Moreover, the striatum receives inputs from many brain areas and it sends signals to the other components of the basal ganglia. For instance, the striatum sends inputs to globus pallidus and the globus pallidus sends inhibitory inputs to a number of motor-related areas. The striatum also sends input signals to substantial nigra through the neurotransmitter dopamine. Generally, dopamine plays an important function in the basal ganglia function.  

What is Cerebellum

The cerebellum is the major component of the hindbrain of all vertebrates. The main function of the cerebellum is to control the motor function. Some examples of motor functions of the cerebellum are coordination, movement, mental function, motor learning, balance, and posture. The cerebellum occurs in the back portion of the skull, below the temporal and occipital lobes. Moreover, the cerebellum occurs as a separate structure of the brain. In addition, the two components of the cerebellum are the cerebellar cortex and cerebellar nuclei.

Basal Ganglia vs Cerebellum

Figure 2: Cerebellum

The cerebellar cortex is a layer of folded tissue that contains most of the cerebellum’s neurons. In comparison, cerebellar nuclei are the innermost part of the cerebellum. In fact, the cerebellum makes up 10% of the brain and it contains 50-80% of the brain’s neurons. It also coordinates and controls voluntary movements by receiving information.  Meanwhile, the other brain areas that send information to the basal ganglia include the brainstem, cerebrum, and spinal cord. 

Similarities Between Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum

  • The basal ganglia and cerebellum are two subcortical structures of the brain.
  • Furthermore, they provide nerve signals to the thalamus.
  • Moreover, the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and cerebral cortex work as an integrated network.

Difference Between Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum

Definition

Basal ganglia refer to a group of structures linked to the thalamus in the base of the brain and involved in the coordination of movement while cerebellum refers to the part of the brain at the back of the skull in vertebrates, which coordinates and regulates muscular activity.

Structure

Basal ganglia are a cluster of subcortical nuclei deep to cerebral hemispheres while the cerebellum contains the cerebrocerebellum, the spinocerebellum, and the vestibulocerebellum.

Correspondence

Basal ganglia are subcortical structures while the cerebellum is a structure of a hindbrain.

Main Function

Basal ganglia send reward signals from the midbrain while the cerebellum sends supervision signals to the thalamus.

Signals from

Basal ganglia receive signals from midbrain dopaminergic neurons while the cerebellum receives signals from the inferior olive.

Function

Moreover, the basal ganglia ensure fast, fluid, and smooth movements while the cerebellum coordinates the movements of the body.

Conclusion

In brief, the basal ganglia and cerebellum are two structures of the brain. Basal ganglia are a cluster of subcortical nuclei that occur deep in the cerebral hemispheres. They are subcortical structures. Moreover, the main function of the basal ganglia is to send reward signals that come from the midbrain to the thalamus. The midbrain, on the other hand, is a structure of the hindbrain that contains three parts: cerebrocerebellum, spinocerebellum, and vestibulocerebellum. Furthermore, the main function of the cerebellum is to send supervise signals to the thalamus from the inferior olive. Therefore, the main difference between basal ganglia and cerebellum is their structure and function.

References:
  1. Lanciego JL, Luquin N, Obeso JA. Functional neuroanatomy of the basal ganglia. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012 Dec 1;2(12):a009621. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a009621. PMID: 23071379; PMCID: PMC3543080.
  2. Cherry, Kendra. “What Is the Cerebellum?Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 14 Nov. 2022, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-cerebellum-2794964.
Image Courtesy:
  1. Basal ganglia and related structures (2)” By File:BrainCaudatePutamen.svg: User:Leevanjackson – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Mikroglej 1” By Henry Gray – Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

Leave a Reply