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Behav Neurosci. 1992 Dec;106(6):879-88.

Reversible lesions of the cerebellar interpositus nucleus during acquisition and retention of a classically conditioned behavior.

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Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089-2520.


Previous lesion, recording, and stimulation studies have implicated the cerebellum and its associated circuitry as essentially involved in classical conditioning of discrete, somatic muscle responses. In 2 experiments, the interpositus nucleus of the cerebellum was assessed for the plasticity associated with learning and memory of the nictitating membrane (NM) response by using local cooling as a reversible lesion technique. In well-trained animals (Experiment 1), NM conditioned responses (CRs) were abolished during cooling of the interpositus but reappeared when the interpositus returned to body temperature. This cooling-warming protocol could be repeated many times. Cooling could be prolonged (one session, approximately 1 hr) with recovery of NM CRs as tested on the next day. Multiple-unit recordings related to learning were also absent in the interpositus and red nucleus during cooling. In naive animals (Experiment 2), both behavioral and unit CRs did not develop while training with cooling. There was no evidence of savings when training continued without cooling: Behavioral and unit CRs developed as if the animals were still naive. These results support the idea that the interpositus nucleus of the cerebellum is the critical locus for learning and memory of this classical CR.

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