Bilateral disruption of conditioned responses after unilateral blockade of cerebellar output in the decerebrate ferret

J Physiol. 1997 Jul 1;502 ( Pt 1)(Pt 1):189-201. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7793.1997.189bl.x.


1. Lesions of the cerebellar cortex can abolish classically conditioned eyeblink responses, but some recovery with retraining has been observed. It has been suggested that the recovered responses are generated by the intact contralateral cerebellar hemisphere. In order to investigate this suggestion, bilaterally acquired conditioned responses were studied after the unilateral blockade of cerebellar output. 2. Decerebrate ferrets were trained with ipsilateral electrical forelimb stimulation (300 ms, 50 Hz, 1 mA) as the conditioned stimulus and bilaterally applied peri-orbital stimulation (40 ms, 50 Hz, 3 mA) as the unconditioned stimulus. The conditioned and unconditioned eyeblink responses were monitored by EMG recordings from the orbicularis oculi muscle. The output from one cerebellar hemisphere was blocked either by injecting small amounts of lignocaine (lidocaine; 0.5-1.0 microliter) into the brachium conjunctivum, or by a restricted mechanical lesion of the brainstem rostral to the cerebellum. 3. As described by previous investigators, the unilateral blockade of cerebellar output abolished ipsilateral conditioned responses. 4. More importantly, such blockade also abolished or strongly depressed contralateral conditioned responses. When mechanical lesions of the brachium conjunctivum were made, contralateral responses, in contrast to ipsilateral responses, recovered within 1-2.5 h. 5. When the unconditioned stimulus was removed on one side, causing extinction of conditioned responses on this side, conditioned responses were temporarily depressed on the trained side as well. 6. Unilateral interruption of cerebellar output had no clear effect on contralateral unconditioned reflex responses. 7. The results demonstrate that one cerebellar hemisphere in ferrets exerts a marked control of contralateral conditioned eyeblink responses, probably via premotor neurones involved specifically in conditioned, and not in unconditioned, responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Blinking / physiology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Decerebrate State / physiopathology*
  • Decerebrate State / surgery
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Ferrets
  • Functional Laterality
  • Lidocaine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine