Cerebellar aminergic neuromodulation: towards a functional understanding

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2004 Mar;44(2-3):103-16. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2003.10.004.


Although a number of neuromodulators influence the cerebellar circuitry, their functions remain largely unknown. By reviewing and combining results from data-driven and theory-driven studies, we attempt to provide an integrated systems view of cerebellar neuromodulation. First, we review the short- and long-term effects of neuromodulators on the cerebellar circuitry. Second, we review recent theories of the cerebellum and show that a number of modulatory signals are needed for powerful cerebellar learning and control. Finally, we attempt to match each theoretically derived modulatory signal with a specific neuromodulator. In particular, we propose that serotonin controls the 'responsibility' of each cerebellar unit (or microcomplex) in cerebellar learning and control; norepinephrine gates unsupervised learning in the cerebellar cortex; dopamine enhances goal-oriented cerebellar learning; and, finally, acetylcholine controls the speed of supervised learning in Purkinje cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biogenic Amines / metabolism
  • Biogenic Amines / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Nerve Net / metabolism
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*


  • Biogenic Amines
  • Neurotransmitter Agents