The loss of coordination associated with alcohol intoxication is largely due to a disruption of cerebellar function. Long-term heavy drinking can also cause progressive degeneration of the cerebellum for some alcoholics. Defects in the cerebellum itself, however, have never been considered as a potential cause of alcohol dependence. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research have found that developmental deficits in cerebellar function as reflected by measures of motor development in the first year of life may predict the development of adult alcohol dependence.
"The cerebellum is generally known for its involvement in motor coordination," said Ann Manzardo, research assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center and corresponding author for the study. "It's important for assessing and processing information from your environment, and sequencing motor commands so that you can coordinate your movements, making them smooth and orderly. A relatively new line of research has also implicated the cerebellar vermis the midline portion of the cerebellum in the regulation of behavior."
"Only recently has the cerebellum's potential involvement in any psychopathology been considered," added Barry Liskow, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center. "For example, imaging studies have suggested the involvement of the cerebellum in schizophrenia. However, there have to my knowledge been no studies that