Firing activities of identified posterior interpositus nucleus neurons during associative learning in behaving cats

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2005 Sep;49(2):367-76. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2004.10.006.


On the basis of stimulation and permanent or transient lesions of putatively involved structures, and using transgenic mice with defective functional circuits, it has been proposed that cerebellar cortex and/or nuclei could be the sites where classically conditioned nictitating membrane/eyelid responses are acquired and stored. Here, we review recent information regarding the electrical activities of deep cerebellar nuclei neurons recorded during the performance of reflex and acquired eyeblinks. In particular, the rostral pole of the dorsolateral region of the posterior interpositus nucleus contains neurons significantly related to reflexively evoked and classically conditioned eyelid responses. Thus, type A interpositus neurons increase their discharge rate during eyelid movements, modulating it depending upon eyelid motorics. In contrast, type B neurons decrease their firing, even to a stop, during the same eyelid responses. However, as these changes in firing start after the onset of eyelid conditioned responses (CRs), and because they do not seem to encode eyelid position and velocity during the CR, the interpositus nucleus cannot be conclusively considered the site where eyelid learned responses are generated and stored. Additional microstimulation and pharmacological blockage of the recorded sites support the suggestion that posterior interpositus neurons contribute to the enhancement of CRs. Moreover, interpositus neurons probably contribute to the proper damping of newly acquired eyelid responses. The contributing role of other neuronal centers and circuits related to the eyelid motor system are also discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cats
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / cytology*
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*