Patterns and pauses in Purkinje cell simple spike trains: experiments, modeling and theory

Neuroscience. 2009 Sep 1;162(3):816-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.02.040. Epub 2009 Feb 26.


We review our recent experimental and modeling results on how cerebellar Purkinje cells encode information in their simple spike trains and present a theory of the function of pauses and regular spiking patterns. The regular spiking patterns were discovered in extracellular recordings of simple spikes in awake and anesthetized rodents, where it was shown that more than half of the spontaneous activity consists of short epochs of regular spiking. These periods of regular spiking are interrupted by pauses, which can be tightly synchronized among nearby Purkinje cells, while the spikes in the regular patterns are not. Interestingly, pauses are affected by long-term depression of the parallel fiber synapses. Both in modeling and slice experiments it was demonstrated that long-term depression causes a decrease in the duration of pauses, leading to an increase of the spike output of the neuron. Based on these results we propose that pauses in the simple spike train form a temporal code which can lead to a rebound burst in the target deep cerebellar nucleus neurons. Conversely, the regular spike patterns may be a rate code, which presets the amplitude of future rebound bursts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*


  • Calcium