Multiple types of cerebellar target neurons and their circuitry in the vestibule-ocular reflex

Minyoung Shin, Setareh H. Moghadam, Chris Sekirnjak, Martha W. Bagnall, Kristine E. Kolkman, Richard Jacobs, Michael Faulstich, Sascha du Lac

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59 Scopus citations


The cerebellum influences behavior and cognition exclusively via Purkinje cell synapses onto neurons in the deep cerebellar and vestibular nuclei. In contrast with the rich information available about the organization of the cerebellar cortex and its synaptic inputs, relatively little is known about microcircuitry postsynaptic to Purkinje cells. Here we examined the cell types and microcircuits through which Purkinje cells influence an oculomotor behavior controlled by the cerebellum, the horizontal vestibule-ocular reflex, which involves only two eye muscles. Usingacombinationofanatomical tracing and electrophysiological recordingsintransgenic mouse lines, we identified several classes of neurons in the medial vestibular nucleus that receive Purkinje cell synapses from the cerebellar flocculus. Glycinergic and glutamatergic flocculus target neurons (FTNs) with somata densely surrounded by Purkinje cell terminals projected axonsto the ipsilateral abducens and oculomotor nuclei, respectively.Of three additional types ofFTNs that were sparsely innervated by Purkinje cells, glutamatergic and glycinergic neurons projected to the contralateral and ipsilateral abducens, respectively, and GABAe-rgic neurons projected to contralateral vestibular nuclei. Densely innervated FTNs had high spontaneous firing rates and pronounced postinhibitory rebound firing, and were physiologically homogeneous, whereas the intrinsic excitability of sparsely innervated FTNs varied widely. Heterogeneity in the molecular expression, physiological properties, and postsynaptic targets of FTNs implies that Pur-kinje cell activity influences the neural control of eye movements in several distinct ways. These results indicate that the cerebellum regulates a simple reflex behavior via at least five different cell types that are postsynaptic to Purkinje cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10776-10786
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 27 2011


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