The arbour vitae lies in the centre of the cerebellum and is critical in the coordination of the arms, legs and any actions requiring hand-eye coordination. The arbour vitae is made of white matter that transmits information throughout the brain.
The arbour vitae is made of myelinated axons that are pink in colour and send nerve impulses. The myelin sheaths that cover the axons give the arbour vitae its pink tint from protein and fatty materials. If the myelin sheaths get damaged, a person could get multiple sclerosis or another disease. Other issues that can arise in the arbour vitae include cerebellar haemorrhage from tumours and infection from pathogens that lead to ataxia.
The deep cerebellar and the fastigial nuclei are located inside the arbour vitae, as are the emboliform-globose and dentate nuclei. These structures connect to the cerebellum’s outgoing nerve fibres. The cerebellum sits below the rest of the brain and looks like a separate structure; its surface of parallel groves looks quite different from the irregular convolutions of the cerebral cortex. The cerebellum is composed of a continuous layer of tissue that is tightly folded like an accordion.
The name “arbour vitae” comes from Latin and means “tree of life.” Its name comes from the fact that it looks like a tree. The tree species Aborvitae was introduced to Europe by French explorers and was known for being able to cure scurvy by making tea from its bark and leaves. In 1558, it obtained its name based on its medicinal properties.