Reliable coding emerges from coactivation of climbing fibers in microbands of cerebellar Purkinje neurons.
ABSTRACT: The inferior olive projects climbing fiber axons to cerebellar Purkinje neurons, where they trigger calcium-based dendritic spikes. These responses dynamically shape the immediate spike output of Purkinje cells as well as provide an instructive signal to guide long-term plasticity. Climbing fibers typically fire approximately once a second, and the instructive role is distributed over many such firing events. However, transmission of salient information on an immediate basis needs to occur on a shorter timescale during which a Purkinje cell would typically be activated by a climbing fiber only once. Here we show using in vivo calcium imaging in anesthetized mice and rats that sensory events are rapidly and reliably represented by momentary, simultaneous coactivation of microbands of adjacent Purkinje cells. Microbands were sagittally oriented and spanned up to 100 microm mediolaterally, representing hundreds of Purkinje cells distributed over multiple folia. Spontaneous and sensory-evoked microbands followed boundaries that were close or identical to one another and were desynchronized by olivary injection of the gap junction blocker mefloquine, indicating that excitation to the olive is converted to synchronized firing by electrical coupling. One-time activation of microbands could distinguish a sensory response from spontaneous activity with up to 98% accuracy. Given the anatomy of the olivocerebellar system, microband synchrony may shape the output of neurons in the cerebellar nuclei either via powerful inhibition by Purkinje cells or by direct monosynaptic excitation from the inferior olive.
Project description:The brain must make sense of external stimuli to generate relevant behavior. We used a combination of in vivo approaches to investigate how the cerebellum processes sensory-related information. We found that the inferior olive encodes contexts of sensory-associated external cues in a graded manner, apparent in the presynaptic activity of their axonal projections (climbing fibers) in the cerebellar cortex. Individual climbing fibers were broadly responsive to different sensory modalities but relayed sensory-related information to the cortex in a lobule-dependent manner. Purkinje cell dendrites faithfully transformed this climbing fiber activity into dendrite-wide Ca2+ signals without a direct contribution from the mossy fiber pathway. These results demonstrate that the size of climbing-fiber-evoked Ca2+ signals in Purkinje cell dendrites is largely determined by the firing level of climbing fibers. This coding scheme emphasizes the overwhelming role of the inferior olive in generating salient signals useful for instructing plasticity and learning.
Project description:The output of the cerebellar cortex is controlled by two main inputs, (i.e., the climbing fiber and mossy fiber-parallel fiber pathway) and activations of these inputs elicit characteristic effects in its Purkinje cells: that is, the so-called complex spikes and simple spikes. Target neurons of the Purkinje cells in the cerebellar nuclei show rebound firing, which has been implicated in the processing and storage of motor coordination signals. Yet, it is not known to what extent these rebound phenomena depend on different modes of Purkinje cell activation. Using extracellular as well as patch-clamp recordings, we show here in both anesthetized and awake rodents that simple and complex spike-like train stimuli to the cerebellar cortex, as well as direct activation of the inferior olive, all result in rebound increases of the firing frequencies of cerebellar nuclei neurons for up to 250 ms, whereas single-pulse stimuli to the cerebellar cortex predominantly elicit well-timed spiking activity without changing the firing frequency of cerebellar nuclei neurons. We conclude that the rebound phenomenon offers a rich and powerful mechanism for cerebellar nuclei neurons, which should allow them to differentially process the climbing fiber and mossy fiber inputs in a physiologically operating cerebellum.
Project description:Climbing fiber inputs to Purkinje cells are thought to be involved in generating the instructive signals that drive cerebellar learning. To investigate how these instructive signals are encoded, we recorded the activity of individual climbing fibers during cerebellum-dependent eyeblink conditioning in mice. We found that climbing fibers signaled both the unexpected delivery and the unexpected omission of the periocular airpuff that served as the instructive signal for eyeblink conditioning. In addition, we observed that climbing fibers activated by periocular airpuffs also responded to stimuli from other sensory modalities if those stimuli were novel or if they predicted that the periocular airpuff was about to be presented. This pattern of climbing fiber activity is markedly similar to the responses of dopamine neurons during reinforcement learning, which have been shown to encode a particular type of instructive signal known as a temporal difference prediction error.
Project description:Climbing fibers, the projections from the inferior olive to the cerebellar cortex, carry sensorimotor error and clock signals that trigger motor learning by controlling cerebellar Purkinje cell synaptic plasticity and discharge. Purkinje cells target the deep cerebellar nuclei, which are the output of the cerebellum and include an inhibitory GABAergic projection to the inferior olive. This pathway identifies a potential closed loop in the olivo-cortico-nuclear network. Therefore, sets of Purkinje cells may phasically control their own climbing fiber afferents. Here, using in vitro and in vivo recordings, we describe a genetically modified mouse model that allows the specific optogenetic control of Purkinje cell discharge. Tetrode recordings in the cerebellar nuclei demonstrate that focal stimulations of Purkinje cells strongly inhibit spatially restricted sets of cerebellar nuclear neurons. Strikingly, such stimulations trigger delayed climbing-fiber input signals in the stimulated Purkinje cells. Therefore, our results demonstrate that Purkinje cells phasically control the discharge of their own olivary afferents and thus might participate in the regulation of cerebellar motor learning.
Project description:Behavioural learning is mediated by cellular plasticity, such as changes in the strength of synapses at specific sites in neural circuits. The theory of cerebellar motor learning relies on movement errors signalled by climbing-fibre inputs to cause long-term depression of synapses from parallel fibres to Purkinje cells. However, a recent review has called into question the widely held view that the climbing-fibre input is an 'all-or-none' event. In anaesthetized animals, there is wide variation in the duration of the complex spike (CS) caused in Purkinje cells by a climbing-fibre input. Furthermore, the amount of plasticity in Purkinje cells is graded according to the duration of electrically controlled bursts in climbing fibres. The duration of bursts depends on the 'state' of the inferior olive and therefore may be correlated across climbing fibres. Here we provide a potential functional context for these mechanisms during motor learning in behaving monkeys. The magnitudes of both plasticity and motor learning depend on the duration of the CS responses. Furthermore, the duration of CS responses seems to be a meaningful signal that is correlated across the Purkinje-cell population during motor learning. We suggest that during learning, longer bursts in climbing fibres lead to longer-duration CS responses in Purkinje cells, more calcium entry into Purkinje cells, larger synaptic depression, and stronger learning. The same graded impact of instructive signals for plasticity and learning might occur throughout the nervous system.
Project description:The large-conductance voltage- and calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels are ubiquitously expressed in the brain and play an important role in the regulation of neuronal excitation. Previous work has shown that the total deletion of these channels causes an impaired motor behavior, consistent with a cerebellar dysfunction. Cellular analyses showed that a decrease in spike firing rate occurred in at least two types of cerebellar neurons, namely in Purkinje neurons (PNs) and in Golgi cells. To determine the relative role of PNs, we developed a cell-selective mouse mutant, which lacked functional BK channels exclusively in PNs. The behavioral analysis of these mice revealed clear symptoms of ataxia, indicating that the BK channels of PNs are of major importance for normal motor coordination. By using combined two-photon imaging and patch-clamp recordings in these mutant mice, we observed a unique type of synaptic dysfunction in vivo, namely a severe silencing of the climbing fiber-evoked complex spike activity. By performing targeted pharmacological manipulations combined with simultaneous patch-clamp recordings in PNs, we obtained direct evidence that this silencing of climbing fiber activity is due to a malfunction of the tripartite olivo-cerebellar feedback loop, consisting of the inhibitory synaptic connection of PNs to the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN), followed by a projection of inhibitory DCN afferents to the inferior olive, the origin of climbing fibers. Taken together, our results establish an essential role of BK channels of PNs for both cerebellar motor coordination and feedback regulation in the olivo-cerebellar loop.
Project description:The climbing fiber input to the cerebellum from the inferior olive is thought to act as a teacher whose activity controls the induction of motor learning. We designed training conditions that did not elicit instructive signals in the climbing fibers, but nevertheless induced robust and consistent motor learning in the vestibulo-ocular reflex of rhesus monkeys. Our results indicate that instructive signals in the climbing fibers are not necessary for cerebellum-dependent learning. Instead, instructive signals carried by either the climbing fibers or Purkinje cell simple spikes may be sufficient to induce motor learning, with additive effects occurring when both instructive signals are present during training.
Project description:The climbing fiber input to the cerebellar cortex is thought to provide instructive signals that drive the induction of motor skill learning. We found that optogenetic activation of Purkinje cells, the sole output neurons of the cerebellar cortex, can also drive motor learning in mice. This dual control over the induction of learning by climbing fibers and Purkinje cells can expand the learning capacity of motor circuits.
Project description:Synapses throughout the brain are modified through associative mechanisms in which one input provides an instructive signal for changes in the strength of a second coactivated input. In cerebellar Purkinje cells, climbing fiber synapses provide an instructive signal for plasticity at parallel fiber synapses. Here, we show that noradrenaline activates alpha2-adrenergic receptors to control short-term and long-term associative plasticity of parallel fiber synapses. This regulation of plasticity does not reflect a conventional direct modulation of the postsynaptic Purkinje cell or presynaptic parallel fibers. Instead, noradrenaline reduces associative plasticity by selectively decreasing the probability of release at the climbing fiber synapse, which in turn decreases climbing fiber-evoked dendritic calcium signals. These findings raise the possibility that targeted presynaptic modulation of instructive synapses could provide a general mechanism for dynamic context-dependent modulation of associative plasticity.
Project description:Inhibitory projection neurons in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) provide GABAergic input to neurons of the inferior olive (IO) that in turn produce climbing fiber synapses onto Purkinje cells. Anatomical evidence suggests that DCN to IO synapses control electrical coupling between IO neurons. In vivo studies suggest that they also control the synchrony of IO neurons and play an important role in cerebellar learning. Here we describe the DCN to IO synapse. Remarkably, GABA release was almost exclusively asynchronous, with little conventional synchronous release. Synaptic transmission was extremely frequency dependent, with low-frequency stimulation being largely ineffective. However, due to the prominence of asynchronous release, stimulation at frequencies above 10 Hz evoked steady-state inhibitory currents. These properties seem ideally suited to transform the firing rate of DCN neurons into sustained inhibition that both suppresses the firing of IO cells and regulates the effective coupling between IO neurons.