Time course of classically conditioned Purkinje cell response is determined by initial part of conditioned stimulus

J Neurosci. 2011 Jun 22;31(25):9070-4. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1653-11.2011.


Classical conditioning of a motor response such as eyeblink is associated with the development of a pause in cerebellar Purkinje cell firing that is an important driver of the overt response. This conditioned Purkinje cell response is adaptively timed and has a specific temporal profile that probably explains the time course of the overt behavior. It is generally assumed that the temporal properties of the conditioned Purkinje cell response are determined by the temporal pattern of the parallel fiber impulses generated by the conditioned stimulus at the time of the conditioned response. We show here in the decerebrate ferret preparation that a very brief conditioned stimulus, consisting of only one or two impulses in the mossy fibers, can be sufficient to elicit a full conditioned Purkinje cell response with normal time course. The finding suggests that parallel fiber input to the Purkinje cell influences the firing rate several hundred milliseconds later. It poses a serious challenge to the standard view of the role of parallel fiber impulses in response timing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Ferrets / physiology*
  • Male
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*