Bidirectional parallel fiber plasticity in the cerebellum under climbing fiber control

Neuron. 2004 Nov 18;44(4):691-700. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2004.10.031.


Cerebellar parallel fiber (PF)-Purkinje cell (PC) synapses can undergo postsynaptically expressed long-term depression (LTD) or long-term potentiation (LTP) depending on whether or not the climbing fiber (CF) input is coactivated during tetanization. Here, we show that modifications of the postsynaptic calcium load using the calcium chelator BAPTA or photolytic calcium uncaging result in a reversal of the expected polarity of synaptic gain change. At higher concentrations, BAPTA blocks PF-LTP. These data indicate that PF-LTD requires a higher calcium threshold amplitude than PF-LTP induction and suggest that CF activity acts as a polarity switch by providing dendritic calcium transients. Moreover, previous CF-LTD induction changes the relative PF-LTD versus -LTP induction probability. These findings suggest that bidirectional cerebellar learning is governed by a calcium threshold rule operating "inverse" to the mechanism previously described at other glutamatergic synapses (BCM rule) and that the LTD/LTP induction probability is under heterosynaptic climbing fiber control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Egtazic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Egtazic Acid / pharmacology
  • Long-Term Potentiation / drug effects
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / drug effects
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Chelating Agents
  • Egtazic Acid
  • 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid
  • Calcium