Inhibition of the inferior olive during conditioned responses in the decerebrate ferret

Exp Brain Res. 1996 Jun;110(1):36-46. doi: 10.1007/BF00241372.


Output from the interpositus nucleus can inhibit the inferior olive, probably via the GABA-ergic nucleo-olivary pathway. It has been suggested that the function of this inhibition might be to regulate synaptic plasticity resulting from parallel fibre/climbing fibre interaction in cerebellar Purkinje cells, by providing negative feedback information to the olive. Thus, when a learned response, generated by the interpositus nucleus, reaches a sufficient amplitude, the olive would be inhibited and further learning blocked. This suggestion was tested in a classical conditioning paradigm. Decerebrate ferrets were trained using electrical skin stimulation of the forelimb as the conditioned stimulus (CS) and periorbital stimulation as the unconditioned stimulus (US). Climbing fibre responses evoked in Purkinje cells by the US were recorded as surface field potentials in the part of the c3 zone controlling eyeblink. It was found that the CS did not inhibit the olive at the beginning of training, but when conditioned responses were large, the olive was inhibited by the CS in some animals. After a number of unpaired CS presentations, which caused extinction of the conditioned response, the inhibition disappeared. The size of individual conditioned responses correlated negatively with the size of the climbing fibre responses evoked by the US. Climbing fibre responses evoked by direct stimulation of the olive were also inhibited. It was concluded that cerebellar output during performance of a conditioned response inhibits the inferior olive. The results thus support the hypothesis of a cerebellar locus of conditioning and are consistent with the proposed role of cerebello-olivary inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology*
  • Decerebrate State
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Ferrets
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition*
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results