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J Comp Neurol. 2008 Aug 10;509(5):449-73. doi: 10.1002/cne.21735.

The neuronal organization of a unique cerebellar specialization: the valvula cerebelli of a mormyrid fish.

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Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, Oregon 97006, USA.


The distal valvula cerebelli is the most prominent part of the mormyrid cerebellum. It is organized in ridges of ganglionic and molecular layers, oriented perpendicular to the granular layer. We have combined intracellular recording and labeling techniques to reveal the cellular morphology of the valvula ridges in slice preparations. We have also locally ejected tracer in slices and in intact animals to examine its input fibers. The palisade dendrites and fine axon arbors of Purkinje cells are oriented in the horizontal plane of the ridge. The dendrites of basal efferent cells and large central cells are confined to the molecular layer but are not planar. Basal efferent cell axons are thick and join the basal bundle leaving the cerebellum. Large central cell axons are also thick, and they traverse long distances in the transverse plane, with local collaterals in the ganglionic layer. Vertical cells and small central cells also have thick axons with local collaterals. The dendrites of Golgi cells are confined to the molecular layer, but their axon arbors are either confined to the granular layer or proliferate in both the granular and ganglionic layers. Dendrites of deep stellate cells are distributed in the molecular layer, with fine axon arbors in the ganglionic layer. Granule cell axons enter the molecular layer as parallel fibers without bifurcating. Climbing fibers run in the horizontal plane and terminate exclusively in the ganglionic layer. Our results confirm and extend previous studies and suggest a new concept of the circuitry of the mormyrid valvula cerebelli.

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