Molecular layer interneurons in the cerebellum encode for valence in associative learning

Nat Commun. 2020 Aug 31;11(1):4217. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18034-2.


The cerebellum plays a crucial role in sensorimotor and associative learning. However, the contribution of molecular layer interneurons (MLIs) to these processes is not well understood. We used two-photon microscopy to study the role of ensembles of cerebellar MLIs in a go-no go task where mice obtain a sugar water reward if they lick a spout in the presence of the rewarded odorant and avoid a timeout when they refrain from licking for the unrewarded odorant. In naive animals the MLI responses did not differ between the odorants. With learning, the rewarded odorant elicited a large increase in MLI calcium responses, and the identity of the odorant could be decoded from the differential response. Importantly, MLIs switched odorant responses when the valence of the stimuli was reversed. Finally, mice took a longer time to refrain from licking in the presence of the unrewarded odorant and had difficulty becoming proficient when MLIs were inhibited by chemogenetic intervention. Our findings support a role for MLIs in learning valence in the cerebellum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology*
  • Female
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton
  • Models, Neurological
  • Odorants
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Reward
  • Time Factors