Title: How does the cerebellum compute?
Speaker: James Bower
Speaker Info: The Research Imaging Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio and the Cajal Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Texas- San Antonio
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The nearly crystalline structure of the mammalian cerebellar cortex has allowed investigators to develop a highly detailed description of its neurons and network architecture. This knowledge, in turn, has substantially influenced speculations concerning cerebellar function. At the core of many of these speculations is the assumption that the more than 150,000 parallel fiber synaptic inputs made on individual cerebellar Purkinje cells provide a direct excitatory drive on the output of these cells. However, experimental evidence that this is not the case has been accumulating for more than 35 years. This presentation will first review the evidence for and against a strong influence of parallel fibers on Purkinje cells, and will then consider the findings of our recent experimental and model-based investigations suggesting that parallel fiber synapses are closely coupled functionally to molecular layer inhibition, and are therefore modulatory in nature. The talk will conclude by considering the consequences of this new interpretation of cerebellar cortical circuitry for current theories of cerebellar function.Date: Friday, May 3, 2002