Excitatory nucleo-olivary pathway shapes cerebellar outputs for motor control

Nat Neurosci. 2023 Aug;26(8):1394-1406. doi: 10.1038/s41593-023-01387-4. Epub 2023 Jul 20.


The brain generates predictive motor commands to control the spatiotemporal precision of high-velocity movements. Yet, how the brain organizes automated internal feedback to coordinate the kinematics of such fast movements is unclear. Here we unveil a unique nucleo-olivary loop in the cerebellum and its involvement in coordinating high-velocity movements. Activating the excitatory nucleo-olivary pathway induces well-timed internal feedback complex spike signals in Purkinje cells to shape cerebellar outputs. Anatomical tracing reveals extensive axonal collaterals from the excitatory nucleo-olivary neurons to downstream motor regions, supporting integration of motor output and internal feedback signals within the cerebellum. This pathway directly drives saccades and head movements with a converging direction, while curtailing their amplitude and velocity via the powerful internal feedback mechanism. Our finding challenges the long-standing dogma that the cerebellum inhibits the inferior olivary pathway and provides a new circuit mechanism for the cerebellar control of high-velocity movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Axons
  • Cerebellum* / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olivary Nucleus* / physiology
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology