Synaptic diversity enables temporal coding of coincident multisensory inputs in single neurons

Nat Neurosci. 2015 May;18(5):718-27. doi: 10.1038/nn.3974. Epub 2015 Mar 30.


The ability of the brain to rapidly process information from multiple pathways is critical for reliable execution of complex sensory-motor behaviors, yet the cellular mechanisms underlying a neuronal representation of multimodal stimuli are poorly understood. Here we explored the possibility that the physiological diversity of mossy fiber (MF) to granule cell (GC) synapses in the mouse vestibulocerebellum may contribute to the processing of coincident multisensory information at the level of individual GCs. We found that the strength and short-term dynamics of individual MF-GC synapses can act as biophysical signatures for primary vestibular, secondary vestibular and visual input pathways. Most GCs receive inputs from different modalities, which, when coactivated, produced enhanced GC firing rates and distinct first spike latencies. Thus, pathway-specific synaptic response properties permit temporal coding of correlated multisensory inputs by single GCs, thereby enriching sensory representation and facilitating pattern separation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / cytology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Kinesthesis / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology