PublicatiesQuasiperiodic rhythms of the inferior olive
Inferior olivary activity causes both short-term and long-term changes in cerebellar output underlying motor performance and motor learning. Many of its neurons engage in coherent subthreshold oscillations and are extensively coupled via gap junctions. Studies in reduced preparations suggest that these properties promote rhythmic, synchronized output. However, the interaction of these properties with torrential synaptic inputs in awake behaving animals is not well understood. Here we combine electrophysiological recordings in awake mice with a realistic tissue-scale computational model of the inferior olive to study the relative impact of intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms governing its activity. Our data and model suggest that if subthreshold oscillations are present in the awake state, the period of these oscillations will be transient and variable. Accordingly, by using different temporal patterns of sensory stimulation, we found that complex spike rhythmicity was readily evoked but limited to short intervals of no more than a few hundred milliseconds and that the periodicity of this rhythmic activity was not fixed but dynamically related to the synaptic input to the inferior olive as well as to motor output. In contrast, in the long-term, the average olivary spiking activity was not affected by the strength and duration of the sensory stimulation, while the level of gap junctional coupling determined the stiffness of the rhythmic activity in the olivary network during its dynamic response to sensory modulation. Thus, interactions between intrinsic properties and extrinsic inputs can explain the variations of spiking activity of olivary neurons, providing a temporal framework for the creation of both the short-term and long-term changes in cerebellar output.