Links from complex spikes to local plasticity and motor learning in the cerebellum of awake-behaving monkeys

Nat Neurosci. 2008 Oct;11(10):1185-92. doi: 10.1038/nn.2197. Epub 2008 Sep 21.


The hypothesis of cerebellar learning proposes that complex spikes in Purkinje cells engage mechanisms of plasticity in the cerebellar cortex; in turn, changes in the cerebellum depress the simple-spike response of Purkinje cells to a given stimulus and cause the adaptive modification of a motor behavior. Many elements of this hypothesis have been supported by prior experiments, and correlations have been found [corrected] between complex spikes, simple-spike plasticity and behavior [corrected] during the learning process. We carried out a trial-by-trial analysis of Purkinje cell responses in awake-behaving monkeys and found evidence for a causal role for complex spikes in the induction of cerebellar plasticity during a simple motor learning task. We found that the presence of a complex spike on one learning trial was linked to a substantial depression of simple-spike responses on the subsequent trial, at a time when behavioral learning was expressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cerebellum / cytology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Probability
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness / physiology*