Long-term predictive and feedback encoding of motor signals in the simple spike discharge of purkinje cells

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26 Scopus citations


Most hypotheses of cerebellar function emphasize a role in real-time control of movements. However, the cerebellum’s use of current information to adjust future movements and its involvement in sequencing, working memory, and attention argues for predicting and maintaining information over extended time windows. The present study examines the time course of Purkinje cell discharge modulation in the monkey (Macaca mulatta) during manual, pseudo-random tracking. Analysis of the simple spike firing from 183 Purkinje cells during tracking reveals modulation up to 2 s before and after kinematics and position error. Modulation significance was assessed against trial shuffled firing, which decoupled simple spike activity from behavior and abolished long-range encoding while preserving data statistics. Position, velocity, and position errors have the most frequent and strongest long-range feedforward and feedback modulations, with less common, weaker long-term correlations for speed and radial error. Position, velocity, and position errors can be decoded from the population simple spike firing with considerable accuracy for even the longest predictive (-2000 to -1500 ms) and feedback (1500 to 2000 ms) epochs. Separate analysis of the simple spike firing in the initial hold period preceding tracking shows similar long-range feedforward encoding of the upcoming movement and in the final hold period feedback encoding of the just completed movement, respectively. Complex spike analysis reveals little long-term modulation with behavior. We conclude that Purkinje cell simple spike discharge includes short- and long-range representations of both upcoming and preceding behavior that could underlie cerebellar involvement in error correction, working memory, and sequencing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0036-17.2017
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Popa et al.


  • Cerebellum
  • Forward internal model
  • Kinematics
  • Motor errors
  • Purkinje cell
  • Working memory


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