Changes in Purkinje cell simple spike encoding of reach kinematics during adaption to a mechanical perturbation

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Abstract

The cerebellum is essential in motor learning. At the cellular level, changes occur in both the simple spike and complex spike firing of Purkinje cells. Because simple spike discharge reflects the main output of the cerebellar cortex, changes in simple spike firing likely reflect the contribution of the cerebellum to the adapted behavior. Therefore, we investigated in Rhesus monkeys how the representation of arm kinematics in Purkinje cell simple spike discharge changed during adaptation to mechanical perturbations of reach movements. Monkeys rapidly adapted to a novel assistive or resistive perturbation along the direction of the reach. Adaptation consisted of matching the amplitude and timing of the perturbation to minimize its effect on the reach. In a majority of Purkinje cells, simple spike firing recorded before and during adaptation demonstrated significant changes in position, velocity, and acceleration sensitivity. The timing of the simple spike representations change within individual cells, including shifts in predictive versus feedback signals. At the population level, feedback-based encoding of position increases early in learning and velocity decreases. Both timing changes reverse later in learning. The complex spike discharge was only weakly modulated by the perturbations, demonstrating that the changes in simple spike firing can be independent of climbing fiber input. In summary, we observed extensive alterations in individual Purkinje cell encoding of reach kinematics, although the movements were nearly identical in the baseline and adapted states. Therefore, adaption to mechanical perturbation of a reaching movement is accompanied by widespread modifications in the simple spike encoding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1106-1124
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 21 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 the authors.

Keywords

  • Cerebellar cortex
  • Complex spike
  • Kinematic signals
  • Motor adaptation
  • Purkinje cells
  • Simple spike

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