A computational mechanism for unified gain and timing control in the cerebellum

PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033319. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


Precise gain and timing control is the goal of cerebellar motor learning. Because the basic neural circuitry of the cerebellum is homogeneous throughout the cerebellar cortex, a single computational mechanism may be used for simultaneous gain and timing control. Although many computational models of the cerebellum have been proposed for either gain or timing control, few models have aimed to unify them. In this paper, we hypothesize that gain and timing control can be unified by learning of the complete waveform of the desired movement profile instructed by climbing fiber signals. To justify our hypothesis, we adopted a large-scale spiking network model of the cerebellum, which was originally developed for cerebellar timing mechanisms to explain the experimental data of Pavlovian delay eyeblink conditioning, to the gain adaptation of optokinetic response (OKR) eye movements. By conducting large-scale computer simulations, we could reproduce some features of OKR adaptation, such as the learning-related change of simple spike firing of model Purkinje cells and vestibular nuclear neurons, simulated gain increase, and frequency-dependent gain increase. These results suggest that the cerebellum may use a single computational mechanism to control gain and timing simultaneously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Movement / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Nystagmus, Optokinetic / physiology
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Rabbits
  • Time Factors