Reciprocal activity between populations of neurons has been widely observed in the brain and is essential for neuronal computation. The different mechanisms by which reciprocal neuronal activity is generated remain to be established. A common motif in neuronal circuits is the presence of afferents that provide excitation to one set of principal neurons and, via interneurons, inhibition to a second set of principal neurons. This circuitry can be the substrate for generation of reciprocal signals. Here we demonstrate that this equivalent circuit in the cerebellar cortex enables the reciprocal firing rates of Purkinje cells to be efficiently generated from a common set of mossy fiber inputs. The activity of a mossy fiber is relayed to Purkinje cells positioned immediately above it by excitatory granule cells. The firing rates of these Purkinje cells increase as a linear function of mossy fiber, and thus granule cell, activity. In addition to exciting Purkinje cells positioned immediately above it, the activity of a mossy fiber is relayed to laterally positioned Purkinje cells by a disynaptic granule cell → molecular layer interneuron pathway. Here we show in acutely prepared cerebellar slices that the input-output relationship of these laterally positioned Purkinje cells is linear and reciprocal to the first set. A similar linear inputoutput relationship between decreases in Purkinje cell firing and strength of stimulation of laterally positioned granule cells was also observed in vivo. Use of interneurons to generate reciprocal firing rates may be a common mechanism by which the brain generates reciprocal signals.
- Purkinje cells
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