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Dynamic modulation of activity in cerebellar nuclei neurons during pavlovian eyeblink conditioning in mice

Research group De Zeeuw
Publication year 2017
Published in eLife
Authors Michiel Manuel Ten Brinke, Shane Heiney, Xiaolu Wang, Martina Proietti-Onori, Henk-Jan Boele, Jacob Bakermans, Javier F Medina, Z. Gao, C.I. De Zeeuw

While research on the cerebellar cortex is crystallizing our understanding of its function in learning behavior, many questions surrounding its downstream targets remain. Here, we evaluate the dynamics of cerebellar interpositus nucleus (IpN) neurons over the course of Pavlovian eyeblink conditioning. A diverse range of learning-induced neuronal responses was observed, including increases and decreases in activity during the generation of conditioned blinks. Trial-by-trial correlational analysis and optogenetic manipulation demonstrate that facilitation in the IpN drives the eyelid movements. Adaptive facilitatory responses are often preceded by acquired transient inhibition of IpN activity that, based on latency and effect, appear to be driven by complex spikes in cerebellar cortical Purkinje cells. Likewise, during reflexive blinks to periocular stimulation, IpN cells show excitation-suppression patterns that suggest a contribution of climbing fibers and their collaterals. These findings highlight the integrative properties of subcortical neurons at the cerebellar output stage mediating conditioned behavior.

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