The cerebellar interpositus nucleus and the dynamic control of learned motor responses

J Neurosci. 2007 Jun 20;27(25):6620-32. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0488-07.2007.


The role played by the cerebellum in movement control requires knowledge of interdependent relationships between kinetic neural commands and the performance (kinematics) of learned motor responses. The eyelid motor system is an excellent model for studying how simple motor responses are elaborated and performed. Kinetic variables (n = 24) were determined here by recording the firing activities of orbicularis oculi motoneurons and cerebellar interpositus neurons in alert cats during classical conditioning, using a delay paradigm. Kinematic variables (n = 36) were selected from eyelid position, velocity, and acceleration traces recorded during the conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus interval. Optimized experimental and analytical tools allowed us to determine the evolution of kinetic and kinematic variables, the dynamic correlation functions relating motoneuron and interpositus neuron firing to eyelid conditioning responses, the falling correlation property of the interpositus nucleus across the successive training sessions, the time and significance of the linear relationships between these variables, and finally, the phase-inversion property of interpositus neurons with respect to acquired conditioned responses. Whereas motoneurons encoded eyelid kinematics at every instant of the dynamic correlation range and generated the natural oscillatory properties of the neuromuscular elements involved in eyeblinks, interpositus neurons did not directly encode eyelid performance: namely, their contribution was only slightly significant in the dynamic correlation range, and this regularity caused the integrated neuronal activity to oscillate by progressively inverting phase information. Therefore, interpositus neurons seem to play a modulating role in the dynamic control of learned motor responses, i.e., they could be considered a neuronal phase-modulating device.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*