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Peripheral stimuli excite coronal beams of Golgi cells in rat cerebellar cortex.

A Volny-Luraghi, R Maex, B Vos, E De Schutter

Laboratory of Theoretical Neurobiology, Born-Bunge Foundation, University of Antwerp UIA, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610, Antwerpen, Belgium.

Neuroscience 113:363-73 (2002)

Abstract - Cerebellar granule cells constitute the largest neurone population of the brain. Their axons run as parallel fibres along the coronal axis, and the one-dimensional spread of excitation that is expected to result from this arrangement is a key assumption of theories of cerebellar function. In many studies using various techniques, however, it was not possible to evoke such a beam-like propagation of excitation with natural stimuli. We recorded, in Crus I and II of anaesthetised rats, pairs of Golgi cells aligned along the parallel fibre axis and synchronising spontaneously. Each pair was subjected to two stimulation protocols: punctate and semi-continuous. Local punctate facial stimulation evoked distinct fast and late responses of variable strength and latency (fast: 4.0-10.2 ms; late: 13.6-22.7 ms). Semi-continuous stimulation with a brush increased the firing rate, and modified the precision and phase of synchronisation. Differences between a pair in response strength and phase to brush stimulation correlated strongly with the difference in latency to punctate stimulation. These observations were reproduced in a model of the granular layer. The stimulus activated a central patch of mossy fibres, and Golgi cells received short- and long-range excitation from mossy and parallel fibres, respectively. The strength and latency of the punctate response of a model Golgi cell were found to vary with its position, reflecting a systematic change in the contribution of mossy and parallel fibres to its excitation with distance from the activated patch. During brush stimulation, model Golgi cells inside the patch fired more precisely synchronised, whereas the other Golgi cells responded with a lag proportional to their distance from the patch, thereby reproducing the experimentally observed changes in synchronisation. Taken together with the previously reported large receptive fields of Golgi cells and with their spontaneous synchronisation, the variable, position-dependent latency of evoked Golgi cell responses indicates a beam-like spread of excitation along the parallel fibres in rat cerebellar cortex.

PMID: 12127093 [PubMed]