Feed-forward recruitment of electrical synapses enhances synchronous spiking in the mouse cerebellar cortex

Elife. 2020 Sep 29;9:e57344. doi: 10.7554/eLife.57344.


In the cerebellar cortex, molecular layer interneurons use chemical and electrical synapses to form subnetworks that fine-tune the spiking output of the cerebellum. Although electrical synapses can entrain activity within neuronal assemblies, their role in feed-forward circuits is less well explored. By combining whole-cell patch-clamp and 2-photon laser scanning microscopy of basket cells (BCs), we found that classical excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) are followed by GABAA receptor-independent outward currents, reflecting the hyperpolarization component of spikelets (a synapse-evoked action potential passively propagating from electrically coupled neighbors). FF recruitment of the spikelet-mediated inhibition curtails the integration time window of concomitant excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and dampens their temporal integration. In contrast with GABAergic-mediated feed-forward inhibition, the depolarizing component of spikelets transiently increases the peak amplitude of EPSPs, and thus postsynaptic spiking probability. Therefore, spikelet transmission can propagate within the BC network to generate synchronous inhibition of Purkinje cells, which can entrain cerebellar output for driving temporally precise behaviors.

Keywords: cerebellum; electrical synapses; feed-forward circuit; interneurons; mouse; neuroscience; synchrony.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cerebellar Cortex / cytology*
  • Electrical Synapses / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Female
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism


  • Receptors, GABA-A