The optokinetic response (OKR), a reflexive eye movement evoked by a motion of the visual field, is known to adapt its strength to cope with an environmental change throughout life, which is a type of cerebellum-dependent learning. Previous studies suggested that OKR learning induces changes in in-vivo spiking activity and synaptic transmission of the cerebellar Purkinje cell (PC). Despite the recent emphasis on the importance of the intrinsic excitability related to learning and memory, the direct correlation between the intrinsic excitability of PCs and OKR learning has not been tested. In the present study, by utilizing the whole-cell patch-clamp recording, we compared the responses of cerebellar PCs to somatic current injection between the control and learned groups. We found that the neurons from the learned group showed a significant reduction in mean firing rate compared with neurons in the control group. In the analysis of single action potential (AP), we revealed that the rheobase current for the generation of single AP was increased by OKR learning, while AP threshold, AP amplitude, and afterhyperpolarization amplitude were not altered. Taken together, our result suggests that the decrease in the intrinsic excitability was induced in the cerebellar PC of learned group by an increase in the current threshold for generating AP.
Keywords: Cerebellum; Intrinsic excitability; Oculomotor learning; Purkinje cell.