PublicationsPurkinje cells translate subjective salience into readiness to act and choice performance
The brain selectively allocates attention from a continuous stream of sensory input. This process is typically attributed to computations in distinct regions of the forebrain and midbrain. Here, we explore whether cerebellar Purkinje cells encode information about the selection of sensory inputs and could thereby contribute to non-motor forms of learning. We show that complex spikes of individual Purkinje cells change the sensory modality they encode to reflect changes in the perceived salience of sensory input. Comparisons with mouse models deficient in cerebellar plasticity suggest that changes in complex spike activity instruct potentiation of Purkinje cells simple spike firing, which is required for efficient learning. Our findings suggest that during learning, climbing fibers do not directly guide motor output, but rather contribute to a general readiness to act via changes in simple spike activity, thereby bridging the sequence from non-motor to motor functions.