Cerebellar cortex contributions to the expression and timing of conditioned eyelid responses.

Publication Date



Journal of Neurophysiology


We used micro-infusions during eyelid conditioning in rabbits to investigate the relative contributions of cerebellar cortex and the underlying deep nuclei (DCN) to the expression of cerebellar learning. These tests were conducted using two forms of cerebellum-dependent eyelid conditioning for which the relative roles of cerebellar cortex and DCN are controversial: delay conditioning, which is largely unaffected by forebrain lesions, and trace conditioning, which involves interactions between forebrain and cerebellum. For rabbits trained with delay conditioning, silencing cerebellar cortex by micro-infusions of the local anesthetic lidocaine unmasked stereotyped short-latency responses. This was also the case after extinction as observed previously with reversible blockade of cerebellar cortex output. Conversely, increasing cerebellar cortex activity by micro-infusions of the GABA(A) antagonist picrotoxin reversibly abolished conditioned responses. Effective cannula placements were clustered around the primary fissure and deeper in lobules hemispheric lobule IV (HIV) and hemispheric lobule V (HV) of anterior lobe. In well-trained trace conditioned rabbits, silencing this same area of cerebellar cortex or reversibly blocking cerebellar cortex output also unmasked short-latency responses. Because Purkinje cells are the sole output of cerebellar cortex, these results provide evidence that the expression of well-timed conditioned responses requires a well-timed decrease in the activity of Purkinje cells in anterior lobe. The parallels between results from delay and trace conditioning suggest similar contributions of plasticity in cerebellar cortex and DCN in both instances.


Animals, Cerebellar Cortex, Conditioning, Eyelid, GABA Antagonists, Infusions, Intraventricular, Lidocaine, Male, Models, Animal, Neuronal Plasticity, Picrotoxin, Purkinje Cells, Pyridazines, Rabbits, Reaction Time, Receptors, GABA-A