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Neurosci Lett. 2000 Dec 15;296(1):1-4.

Population code for tracking velocity based on cerebellar Purkinje cell simple spike firing in monkeys.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Lions Research Building, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Velocity is an important determinant of the simple spike discharge of cerebellar Purkinje cells. In a previous study, Purkinje cells in the intermediate and lateral cerebellum recorded during manual tracking were found to be tuned to a combination of direction and speed, (i.e. preferred velocity). In this study a population analysis of this simple spike discharge was used to determine whether the velocity of tracking could be predicted. For the majority (30/32) of direction-speed combinations, the population response accurately specified the target velocity. A temporal analysis showed how the population response gradually converged to the required velocity 200 ms prior to the onset of tracking. Therefore, the simple spike discharge of a Purkinje cell ensemble contains sufficient information to reconstruct target velocity, providing support for the hypothesis that the cerebellum controls or signals movement velocity.

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