Predictive and feedback performance errors are signaled in the simple spike discharge of individual Purkinje cells

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The cerebellum has been implicated in processing motor errors required for on-line control of movement and motor learning. The dominant view is that Purkinje cell complex spike discharge signals motor errors. This study investigated whether errors are encoded in the simple spike discharge of Purkinje cells in monkeys trained to manually track a pseudorandomly moving target. Four task error signals were evaluated based on cursor movement relative to target movement. Linear regression analyses based on firing residuals ensured that the modulation with a specific error parameter was independent of the other error parameters and kinematics. The results demonstrate that simple spike firing in lobules IV-VI is significantly correlated with position, distance, and directional errors. Independent of the error signals, the same Purkinje cells encode kinematics. The strongest error modulation occurs at feedback timing. However, in 72% of cells at least one of the R2 temporal profiles resulting from regressing firing with individual errors exhibit two peak R2 values. For these bimodal profiles, the first peak is at a negative τ(lead) and a second peak at a positive τ(lag), implying that Purkinje cells encode both prediction and feedback about an error. For the majority of the bimodal profiles, the signs of the regression coefficients or preferred directions reverse at the times of the peaks. The sign reversal results in opposing simple spike modulation for the predictive and feedback components. Dual error representations may provide the signals needed to generate sensory prediction errors used to update a forward internal model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15345-15358
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 31 2012


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