In Latin means “little brain” and is found in the back lower area of the brain. The cerebellum, once thought to be primarily for motor coordination and balance, is now being seen as key to “cognitive functions such as attention, language processing, sensing musical rhythm, and more.”[i] Research has shown that even when contemplating abstract knowledge of movement, that the cerebellum is activated. This could be in the case of a chess player even thinking about moves or a basketball player thinking about shots and passes.
In an interesting sense, the cerebellum is highly involved in play. The act of play relates to the rate and size of growth of the cerebellum indicating that the joy of play is integral to our survival. Children are some of our greatest teachers about play. They help us to remember how important play is both for us spiritually and neurologically. The researcher Stuart Brown has made many discoveries about play. He has discovered how social play fires up the cerebellum, drives impulses to the frontal lobe, and develops contextual memory. Play should not stop in childhood. Our lives should be infused with play throughout.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,you will never enter the kingdom of heaven: (Matthew 18:3).
Play is enormously important in crafting the brain. And if the purpose is more important than the act, it is probably not play.
[i] Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughan, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, (New York: Avery, 2009), 34.