Forebrain-cerebellum interactions revealed by trace eyelid conditioning
While it is commonly assumed that brain systems receive and process information from other brain systems, there are few examples of tractable behaviors that allow such interactions to be studied. With the experiments presented in this dissertation we provide evidence that trace eyelid conditioning, a simple form of associative learning, is mediated by cerebellar learning in response to the output of persistent neural activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and thus may be useful in analyses of PFC-cerebellar interactions. In a series of stimulation and reversible inactivation experiments we provide evidence that trace eyelid conditioning is mediated by cerebellar learning in response to a learned forebrain-driven input. Specifically, we provide evidence that this input is driven by the medial PFC and persists through the stimulus free trace interval of trace eyelid conditioning. In the next set of experiments we show that directly presenting the cerebellum with a pattern of input that mimics the classic persistent activity of PFC neurons reconstitutes trace eyelid conditioning, as assessed by a number of stringent tests. Finally, in set of reversible inactivation experiments, we provide evidence that bidirectional learning during trace eyelid conditioning involves the omission of the persistent, PFC-driven input that the cerebellum learns and responds to during trace eyelid conditioning. Given that persistent activity in PFC is often associated with working memory, these experiments suggest that trace eyelid conditioning may be useful in analyses of working memory mechanisms, cerebellar information processing and their interaction. To facilitate future analyses, we conclude with a working hypothesis of forebrain-cerebellum interactions during trace eyelid conditioning that addresses how persistent activity in PFC is induced and how the cerebellum decodes and uses PFC-driven input.
Kalmbach, Brian Edward, "Forebrain-cerebellum interactions revealed by trace eyelid conditioning" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3318658.