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Purkinje cells in the lateral cerebellum of the cat encode visual events and target motion during visually guided reaching

Marple-Horvat, Dilwyn E. and Miles, Omur B. and Cerminara, Nadia L. (2006) Purkinje cells in the lateral cerebellum of the cat encode visual events and target motion during visually guided reaching. The journal of physiology, 571 (3). pp. 619-637. ISSN 1469-7793

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Abstract

In this study the receipt of visual information by the lateral cerebellum and its contribution to a motor output was studied using single unit recording of cerebellar cortical neurones in cats trained to perform visually guided reaching. The activity of Purkinje cells and other cortical neurones in the lateral cerebellum was investigated in relation to various aspects of the task, such as visual events, parameters of target movement, and limb and eye movements. Two-thirds (66%) of Purkinje cells tested could signal simple visual events, such as a flash of light. Neurones were also capable of detecting other less potent, but behaviourally important visual events, such as a ‘GO’ signal (LED brightening). Half of the cells tested were responsive to the on-going motion of the visual target, displaying tonically altered discharge rates for as long as it was moving, and a ‘preferred’ target velocity. A small proportion of cells showed short latency visual modulation that persisted during the forelimb reach. Anatomical tracing studies confirmed that the recordings were obtained from the D1 zone of crus I. In summary, cells in this region of lateral cerebellar cortex perform simple visual functions, such as event detection, but also more complex visual functions, such as encoding parameters of target motion, and their visual responsiveness is appropriate for a role in accurate visually guided reaching to a moving target.

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