Circuit Mechanisms Underlying Motor Memory Formation in the Cerebellum Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The cerebellum stores associative motor memories essential for properly timed movement; however, the mechanisms by which these memories form and are acted upon remain unclear. To determine how cerebellar activity relates to movement and motor learning, we used optogenetics to manipulate┬áspontaneously firing Purkinje neurons (PNs) in mouse simplex lobe. Using high-speed videography and motion tracking, we found that altering PN activity produced rapid forelimb movement. PN inhibition drove movements time-locked to stimulus onset, whereas PN excitation drove delayed movements time-locked to stimulus offset. Pairing either PN inhibition or excitation with sensory stimuli triggered the formation of robust, associative motor memories; however, PN excitation led to learned movements whose timing more closely matched training intervals. These findings implicate inhibition of PNs as a teaching signal, consistent with a model whereby learning leads first to reductions in PN firing that subsequently instruct circuit changes in the cerebellar nucleus.


  • Lee, Ka Hung
  • Mathews, Paul J
  • Reeves, Alexander MB
  • Choe, Katrina
  • Jami, Shekib A
  • Serrano, Raul E
  • Otis, Thomas S

publication date

  • April 2015

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