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Organization of cerebellar neuronal activity during motor action and rest in freely-moving rats

Abstract : The cerebellum is a brain structure involved in coordination complex motor actions such as voluntary movements. To achieve this function, the precise temporal control of a large population of neurons is required. While a large number of patterned population activity has been characterized in many major brain structures (thalamo-cortical system, basal ganglia, hippocampal formation, etc...), very little is currently known in the cerebellum. Therefore, I investigated the presence and characteristics of such an organization in freely-moving rats, especially when they perform a reach-and-grasp task. The cerebellar cortex has a strong topographical organization, such that neighboring cells share similar input sources and output targets. Therefore, studying the local network properties in the cerebellar cortex allows to access to functionally-relevant population activity. First, I demonstrated that multi-wire electrodes, tetrodes, may be used to record multiple neighboring cells in chronic recordings of freely behaving animals using a custom-made microdrive. Second, I examined in the area of the cerebellar cortex controlling limb movements how the principle cells (the Purkinje cells) coordinate their firing during rest and fast forelimb motor action. Using simultaneous electrophysiological recordings of multiple single cells, I found that neighboring Purkinje cells exhibit consistently a co-modulation of their firing rate at time scale of a few milliseconds. This correlated firing is observed during sleep and active exploration, and increases during motor execution. Our results thus indicate that during a fast and complex movement, local assemblies of Purkinje cells form dynamically at short time scales and will produce very transient episodes of inhibition in the deep cerebellar nuclei. Third, in a collaboration with the group of Richard Courtemanche, we studied the link between neuronal firing and slow local field oscillations that are observed in the cerebellum at rest. We found that a large proportion of Golgi cells and Purkinje cells are modulated during the oscillations. These results indicate that these slow oscillations, that may be also observed in the motor cortex, are propagated in the cerebellar cortex. Overall, my work has identified and characterized a number of state-dependent population activity patterns in the cerebellar cortex. How these patterns impact on the motor system largely remains to be understood and should be examined in future studies.
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Submitted on : Monday, June 3, 2013 - 9:55:43 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 10, 2020 - 12:36:18 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-00829306, version 1


Hongying Gao. Organization of cerebellar neuronal activity during motor action and rest in freely-moving rats. Neurons and Cognition [q-bio.NC]. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012PA066080⟩. ⟨tel-00829306⟩



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