Beyond parallel fiber LTD: the diversity of synaptic and non-synaptic plasticity in the cerebellum

Nat Neurosci. 2001 May;4(5):467-75. doi: 10.1038/87419.


In recent years, it has become clear that motor learning, as revealed by associative eyelid conditioning and adaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, contributes to the well-established cerebellar functions of sensorimotor integration and control. Long-term depression of the parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synapse (which is often called 'cerebellar LTD') is a cellular phenomenon that has been suggested to underlie these forms of learning. However, it is clear that parallel fiber LTD, by itself, cannot account for all the properties of cerebellar motor learning. Here we review recent electrophysiological experiments that have described a rich variety of use-dependent plasticity in cerebellum, including long-term potentiation (LTP) and LTD of excitatory and inhibitory synapses, and persistent modulation of intrinsic neuronal excitability. Finally, using associative eyelid conditioning as an example, we propose some ideas about how these cellular phenomena might function and interact to endow the cerebellar circuit with particular computational and mnemonic properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Purkinje Fibers / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*