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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Jul; 87(14): 5568–5572.

Learning causes synaptogenesis, whereas motor activity causes angiogenesis, in cerebellar cortex of adult rats.


The role of the cerebellar cortex in motor learning was investigated by comparing the paramedian lobule of adult rats given difficult acrobatic training to that of rats that had been given extensive physical exercise or had been inactive. The paramedian lobule is activated during limb movements used in both acrobatic training and physical exercise. Acrobatic animals had greater numbers of synapses per Purkinje cell than animals from the exercise or inactive groups. No significant difference in synapse number or size between the exercised and inactive groups was found. This indicates that motor learning required of the acrobatic animals, and not repetitive use of synapses during physical exercise, generates new synapses in cerebellar cortex. In contrast, exercise animals had a greater density of blood vessels in the molecular layer than did either the acrobatic or inactive animals, suggesting that increased synaptic activity elicited compensatory angiogenesis.

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