Modulation of Complex-Spike Duration and Probability during Cerebellar Motor Learning in Visually Guided Smooth-Pursuit Eye Movements of Monkeys.
Activation of an inferior olivary neuron powerfully excites Purkinje cells via its climbing fiber input and triggers a characteristic high-frequency burst, known as the complex spike (CS). The theory of cerebellar learning postulates that the CS induces long-lasting depression of the strength of synapses from active parallel fibers onto Purkinje cells, and that synaptic depression leads to changes in behavior. Prior reports showed that a CS on one learning trial is linked to a properly timed depression of simple spikes on the subsequent trial, as well as a learned change in pursuit eye movement. Further, the duration of a CS is a graded instruction for single-trial plasticity and behavioral learning. We now show across multiple learning paradigms that both the probability and duration of CS responses are correlated with the magnitudes of neural and behavioral learning in awake behaving monkeys. When the direction of the instruction for learning repeatedly was in the same direction or alternated directions, the duration and probability of CS responses decreased over a learning block along with the magnitude of trial-over-trial neural learning. When the direction of the instruction was randomized, CS duration, CS probability, and neural and behavioral learning remained stable across time. In contrast to depression, potentiation of simple-spike firing rate for ON-direction learning instructions follows a longer time course and plays a larger role as depression wanes. Computational analysis provides a model that accounts fully for the detailed statistics of a complex set of data.
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