In memory research, studying cerebellum-dependent memory is advantageous due to its relatively simple neural architecture compared with that of other memory circuits. To understand how cerebellum-dependent memory develops and is stored in this circuit, numerous hypotheses have been proposed. These hypotheses are generally able to adequately explain most learning and memory processes; however, several reported results are still poorly understood. Recently, the importance of intrinsic plasticity (i.e., plasticity of intrinsic excitability) has been highlighted in several studies. Because the classical view of cerebellum-dependent eye movement learning was focused on synaptic plasticity, it is valuable to consider the intrinsic plasticity for deeper understanding. In the present review, we re-examine the utility and limitations of previous hypotheses, from classic to recent, and propose an updated hypothesis. Integrating intrinsic plasticity into current models of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) circuit may facilitate deeper understanding of the VOR adaptation process. In particular, during the period of memory transfer, dynamic changes in excitability in both cerebellar Purkinje cells and vestibular nuclear neurons illuminate the role of intrinsic plasticity in the circuit.
Keywords: Cerebellum; Intrinsic plasticity; Memory; Purkinje cells; Vestibular nucleus; Vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR).