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Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 2;6:36131. doi: 10.1038/srep36131.

Modeled changes of cerebellar activity in mutant mice are predictive of their learning impairments.

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Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Royal Dutch Academy of Arts &Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
Bioengineering Department, Imperial College London, UK.
Department of Neuroscience, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Translating neuronal activity to measurable behavioral changes has been a long-standing goal of systems neuroscience. Recently, we have developed a model of phase-reversal learning of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, a well-established, cerebellar-dependent task. The model, comprising both the cerebellar cortex and vestibular nuclei, reproduces behavioral data and accounts for the changes in neural activity during learning in wild type mice. Here, we used our model to predict Purkinje cell spiking as well as behavior before and after learning of five different lines of mutant mice with distinct cell-specific alterations of the cerebellar cortical circuitry. We tested these predictions by obtaining electrophysiological data depicting changes in neuronal spiking. We show that our data is largely consistent with the model predictions for simple spike modulation of Purkinje cells and concomitant behavioral learning in four of the mutants. In addition, our model accurately predicts a shift in simple spike activity in a mutant mouse with a brainstem specific mutation. This combination of electrophysiological and computational techniques opens a possibility of predicting behavioral impairments from neural activity.

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