Learning in the cerebellar nucleus is necessary for acquisition of Pavlovian eyelid conditioning

Philip Michael Steele, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The cumulative work presented here supports the hypothesis that plasticity in the cerebellar cortex and cerebellar nuclei mediates a simple associative form of motor teaming-Pavlovian eyelid conditioning. It was previously demonstrated that focal ablative lesions of cerebellar anterior lobe or pharmacological block of the cerebellar cortex output disrupted the timing of the conditioned eyeblink response, unmasking a response with a relatively fixed and very short latency to onset. The results of this thesis demonstrate that the short-latency responses are due to associative learning. Unpaired training does not support the acquisition of short-latency responses while the rate of acquisition of short-latency responses during paired training is approximately the same as that of timed conditioned responses. The acquisition of short-latency responses is dependent on an intact cerebellar cortex. Both ablative lesions of the cerebellar cortex and inactivation of cerebellar cortex output with picrotoxin block the acquisition of short-latency responses. However, once the short-latency responses are acquired neither disconnection of cerebellar cortex nor inactivation of the cerebellar nucleus block reacquisition. The results are consistent with the proposal that plasticity in the cerebellar cortex is necessary for learning the timing of conditioned responses, plasticity in the interpositus nucleus mediates the short latency responses, and cerebellar cortical output and mossy fiber input are necessary for the acquisition of short latency responses.

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Recommended Citation

Steele, Philip Michael, "Learning in the cerebellar nucleus is necessary for acquisition of Pavlovian eyelid conditioning" (2001). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3004460.