Temporally specific sensory signals for the detection of stimulus omission in the primate deep cerebellar nuclei

J Neurosci. 2013 Sep 25;33(39):15432-41. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1698-13.2013.


The cerebellum is implicated in sensory prediction in the subsecond range. To explore how neurons in the cerebellum encode temporal information for the prediction of sensory events, we trained monkeys to make a saccade in response to either a single omission or deviation of isochronous repetitive stimuli. We found that neurons in the cerebellar dentate nucleus exhibited a gradual elevation of the baseline firing rate as the repetition progressed. Most neurons showed a transient suppression for each stimulus, and this firing modulation also increased gradually, opposed to the sensory adaptation. The magnitude of the enhanced sensory response positively correlated with interstimulus interval. Furthermore, when stimuli appeared unexpectedly earlier than the regular timing, the neuronal modulation became smaller, suggesting that the sensory response depended on the time elapsed since the previous stimulus. The enhancement of neuronal modulation was context dependent and was reduced or even absent when monkeys were unmotivated to detect stimulus omission. A significant negative correlation between neuronal activity at stimulus omission and saccade latency suggested that the timing of each stimulus was predicted by the amount of recovery from the transient response. Because inactivation of the recording sites delayed the detection of stimulus omission but only slightly altered the detection of stimulus deviation, these signals might be necessary for the prediction of stimulus timing but may not be involved only in the generation of saccades. Our results demonstrate a novel mechanism for temporal prediction of upcoming stimuli that accompanies the time-dependent modification of sensory gain in the cerebellum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / cytology
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / physiology*
  • Female
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Time Factors