PublicationsHow inhibitory and excitatory inputs gate output of the inferior olive
The inferior olive provides the climbing fibers to Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex, where they elicit all-or-none complex spikes and control major forms of plasticity. Given their important role in both short-term and long-term coordination of cerebellum-dependent behaviors, it is paramount to understand the factors that determine the output of olivary neurons. Here, we use mouse models to investigate how the inhibitory and excitatory inputs to the olivary neurons interact with each other, generating spiking patterns of olivary neurons that align with their intrinsic oscillations. Using dual color optogenetic stimulation and whole-cell recordings, we demonstrate how intervals between the inhibitory input from the cerebellar nuclei and excitatory input from the mesodiencephalic junction affect phase and gain of the olivary output at both the sub- and suprathreshold level. When the excitatory input is activated shortly (~50 ms) after the inhibitory input, the phase of the intrinsic oscillations becomes remarkably unstable and the excitatory input can hardly generate any olivary spike. Instead, when the excitatory input is activated one cycle (~150 ms) after the inhibitory input, the excitatory input can optimally drive olivary spiking, riding on top of the first cycle of the subthreshold oscillations that have been powerfully reset by the preceding inhibitory input. Simulations of a large-scale network model of the inferior olive highlight to what extent the synaptic interactions penetrate in the neuropil, generating quasi-oscillatory spiking patterns in large parts of the olivary subnuclei, the size of which also depends on the relative timing of the inhibitory and excitatory inputs.