Neocortical networks entrain neuronal circuits in cerebellar cortex

J Neurosci. 2009 Aug 19;29(33):10309-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2327-09.2009.


Activity in neocortex is often characterized by synchronized oscillations of neurons and networks, resulting in the generation of a local field potential (LFP) and electroencephalogram. Do the neuronal networks of the cerebellum also generate synchronized oscillations and are they under the influence of those in the neocortex? Here we show that, in the absence of any overt external stimulus, the cerebellar cortex generates a slow oscillation that is correlated with that of the neocortex. Disruption of the neocortical slow oscillation abolishes the cerebellar slow oscillation, whereas blocking cerebellar activity has no overt effect on the neocortex. We provide evidence that the cerebellar slow oscillation results in part from the activation of granule, Golgi, and Purkinje neurons. In particular, we show that granule and Golgi cells discharge trains of single spikes, and Purkinje cells generate complex spikes, during the "up" state of the slow oscillation. Purkinje cell simple spiking is weakly related to the cerebellar and neocortical slow oscillation in a minority of cells. Our results indicate that the cerebellum generates rhythmic network activity that can be recorded as an LFP in the anesthetized animal, which is driven by synchronized oscillations of the neocortex. Furthermore, we show that correlations between neocortical and cerebellar LFPs persist in the awake animal, indicating that neocortical circuits modulate cerebellar neurons in a similar manner in natural behavioral states. Thus, the projection neurons of the neocortex collectively exert a driving and modulatory influence on cerebellar network activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cerebellar Cortex / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley