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Front Integr Neurosci. 2011 Nov 30;5:72. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2011.00072. eCollection 2011.

Adaptive timing of motor output in the mouse: the role of movement oscillations in eyelid conditioning.

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Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA, USA.


To survive, animals must learn to control their movements with millisecond-level precision, and adjust the kinematics if conditions, or task requirements, change. Here, we examine adaptive timing of motor output in mice, using a simple eyelid conditioning task. Mice were trained to blink in response to a light stimulus that was always followed by a corneal air-puff at a constant time interval. Different mice were trained with different intervals of time separating the onset of the light and the air-puff. As in previous work in other animal species, mice learned to control the speed of the blink, such that the time of maximum eyelid closure matched the interval used during training. However, we found that the time of maximum eyelid speed was always in the first 100 ms after movement onset and did not scale with the training interval, indicating that adaptive timing is not accomplished by slowing down (or speeding up) the eyelid movement uniformly throughout the duration of the blink. A new analysis, specifically designed to examine the kinematics of blinks in single trials, revealed that the underlying control signal responsible for the eyelid movement is made up of oscillatory bursts that are time-locked to the light stimulus at the beginning of the blink, becoming desynchronized later on. Furthermore, mice learn to blink at different speeds and time the movement appropriately by adjusting the amplitude, but not the frequency of the bursts in the eyelid oscillation.


cerebellum; eyeblink; interstimulus interval; invariance; learning

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