Dynamic associations in the cerebellar-motoneuron network during motor learning

J Neurosci. 2009 Aug 26;29(34):10750-63. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2178-09.2009.


We assessed here true causal directionalities in cerebellar-motoneuron (MN) network associations during the classical conditioning of eyelid responses. For this, the firing activities of identified facial MNs and cerebellar interpositus (IP) nucleus neurons were recorded during the acquisition of this type of associative learning in alert behaving cats. Simultaneously, the eyelid conditioned response (CR) and the EMG activity of the orbicularis oculi (OO) muscle were recorded. Nonlinear association analysis and time-dependent causality method allowed us to determine the asymmetry, time delays, direction in coupling, and functional interdependences between neuronal recordings and learned motor responses. We concluded that the functional nonlinear association between the IP neurons and OO muscle activities was bidirectional and asymmetric, and the time delays in the two directions of coupling always lagged the start of the CR. Additionally, the strength of coupling depended inversely on the level of expression of eyeblink CRs, whereas causal inferences were significantly dependent on the phase information status. In contrast, the functional association between OO MNs and OO muscle activities was unidirectional and quasisymmetric, and the time delays in coupling were always of opposed signs. Moreover, information transfer in cerebellar-MN network associations during the learning process required a "driving common source" that induced the mere "modulating coupling" of the IP nucleus with the final common pathway for the eyelid motor system. Thus, it can be proposed that the cerebellum is always looking back and reevaluating its own function, using the information acquired in the process, to play a modulating-reinforcing role in motor learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cerebellum / cytology*
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Time Factors