Congruence of mossy fiber and climbing fiber tactile projections in the lateral hemispheres of the rat cerebellum

Ian E. Brown, James M. Bower

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We have examined the spatial relationship between the mossy fiber and climbing fiber projections to crus IIa in the lateral hemispheres of the rat cerebellum. Experiments were performed in ketamine/xylazine anesthetized rats using extracellular recordings and high-density micromapping techniques. Responses were elicited using small, tactile stimuli applied to the perioral and forelimb regions at a rate of 0.5 Hz. In our first series of experiments we demonstrate that the primary (i.e., strongest) receptive field for a single Purkinje cell's complex spike is similar to the primary receptive field of the granule cells immediately subjacent to that Purkinje cell. In our second series of experiments we demonstrate that the granule cell region most strongly activated by a particular peripheral stimulus is immediately subjacent to the Purkinje cells whose complex spikes are also activated most strongly by the same stimulus. The region of climbing fibers activated by a localized peripheral stimulus is 'patchy'; it clearly does not conform to the notion of a continuous microzone. These results support original observations first reported in the 1960s using evoked potential recording techniques that the mossy fiber and climbing fiber pathways converge in cerebellar cortex. However, we extend this earlier work to show that the two pathways converge at the level of single Purkinje cells. Many cerebellar theories assume that mossy fiber and climbing fiber pathways carry information from different peripheral locations or different modalities to cerebellar Purkinje cells. Our results appear to contradict this basic assumption for at least the tactile regions of the lateral hemispheres. (C) 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001



  • Cerebellar cortex
  • Complex spike
  • Granule cell
  • Purkinje cell
  • Simple spike

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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