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Dev Psychobiol. 2004 Jan;44(1):45-57.

Developmental changes in eyeblink conditioning and simple spike activity in the cerebellar cortex.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


The activity of neurons in the cerebellum exhibits learning-related changes during eyeblink conditioning in adult mammals. The induction and preservation of learning-related changes in cerebellar neuronal activity in developing rats may be affected by the level of maturity in cerebellar feedback to its brainstem afferents, including the inferior olive. Developmental changes in cerebellar plasticity were examined by recording the activity of Purkinje cells in eye regions of cerebellar cortical lobule HVI (lobulus simplex) in infant rats during eyeblink conditioning. The percentage and amplitude of eyeblink conditioned responses increased as a function of age. Analyses of Purkinje cell simple spike activity revealed developmental increases in the number of units that exhibited stimulus-evoked and learning-related changes in activity. Moreover, the magnitude of these changes exhibited a substantial age-related increase. The results support the view that the emergence of learning-specific cerebellar plasticity and the ontogeny of eyeblink conditioning are influenced by developmental changes in the synaptic interactions within brainstem-cerebellum circuits.

Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 44: 45-57, 2004.

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