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Cerebellum. 2012 Dec;11(4):946-56. doi: 10.1007/s12311-012-0377-3.

Eyeblink conditioning in healthy adults: a positron emission tomography study.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242, USA. krystallynn.parker@gmail.com

Abstract

Eyeblink conditioning is a paradigm commonly used to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying motor learning. It involves the paired presentation of a tone-conditioning stimulus which precedes and co-terminates with an airpuff unconditioned stimulus. Following repeated paired presentations a conditioned eyeblink develops which precedes the airpuff. This type of learning has been intensively studied and the cerebellum is known to be essential in both humans and animals. The study presented here was designed to investigate the role of the cerebellum during eyeblink conditioning in humans using positron emission tomography (PET). The sample includes 20 subjects (10 male and 10 female) with an average age of 29.2 years. PET imaging was used to measure regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) changes occurring during the first, second, and third blocks of conditioning. In addition, stimuli-specific rCBF to unpaired tones and airpuffs ("pseudoconditioning") was used as a baseline level that was subtracted from each block. Conditioning was performed using three, 15-trial blocks of classical eyeblink conditioning with the last five trials in each block imaged. As expected, subjects quickly acquired conditioned responses. A comparison between the conditioning tasks and the baseline task revealed that during learning there was activation of the cerebellum and recruitment of several higher cortical regions. Specifically, large peaks were noted in cerebellar lobules IV/V, the frontal lobes, and cingulate gyri.

PMID:
22430943
PMCID:
PMC3835594
DOI:
10.1007/s12311-012-0377-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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