Reevaluation of the beam and radial hypotheses of parallel fiber action in the cerebellar cortex

Samuel W. Cramer, Wangcai Gao, Gang Chen, Timothy J. Ebner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The role of parallel fibers (PFs) in cerebellar physiology remains controversial. Early studies inspired the "beam" hypothesis whereby granule cell (GC) activation results in PF-driven, postsynaptic excitation of beams of Purkinje cells (PCs). However, the "radial" hypothesis postulates that the ascending limb of the GC axon provides the dominant input to PCs and generates patch-like responses. Using optical imaging and single-cell recordings in the mouse cerebellar cortex in vivo, this study reexamines the beam versus radial controversy. Electrical stimulation of mossy fibers (MFs) as well as microinjection of NMDA in the granular layer generates beam-like responses with a centrally located patch-like response. Remarkably, ipsilateral forepaw stimulation evokes a beam-like response in Crus I. Discrete molecular layer lesions demonstrate that PFs contribute to the peripherally generated responses in Crus I. In contrast, vibrissal stimulation induces patch-like activation of Crus II and GABAA antagonists fail to convert this patch-like activity into a beam-like response, implying that molecular layer inhibition does not prevent beam-like responses. However, blocking excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) generates beam-like responses in Crus II. These beam-like responses are suppressed by focal inhibition of MF-GC synaptic transmission. Using EAAT4 reporter transgenic mice, we show that peripherally evoked patch-like responses in Crus II are aligned between parasagittal bands of EAAT4. This is the first study to demonstrate beam-like responses in the cerebellar cortex to peripheral, MF, and GC stimulation in vivo. Furthermore, the spatial pattern of the responses depends on extracellular glutamate and its local regulation by EAATs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11412-11424
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number28
StatePublished - 2013

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Reevaluation of the beam and radial hypotheses of parallel fiber action in the cerebellar cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this