Cutaneous receptive fields and topography of mossy fibres and climbing fibres projecting to cat cerebellar C3 zone
1. The topographical organization of mossy fibre input to the forelimb area of the paravermal C3 zone in cerebellar lobules IV and V was investigated in barbiturate-anaesthetized cats and compared with the previously described microzonal organization of climbing fibre input to the same part of the cortex. Recordings were made in the Purkinje cell and granule cell layers from single climbing fibre and mossy fibre units, respectively, and the organization of cutaneous receptive fields was assessed for both types of afferents.
2. Based on spatial characteristics, receptive fields of single mossy fibres could be systematized into ten classes and a total of thirty-two subclasses, mainly in accordance with a scheme previously used for classification of climbing fibres. Different mossy fibres displayed a substantial range of sensitivity to natural peripheral stimulation, responded preferentially to phasic or tonic stimuli and were activated by brushing of hairs or light tapping of the skin.
3. Overall, mossy fibres to any given microzone had receptive fields resembling the climbing fibre receptive field defining that microzone. However, compared with the climbing fibre input, the mossy fibre input had a more intricate topographical organization. Mossy fibres with very similar receptive fields projected to circumscribed cortical regions, with a specific termination not only in the mediolateral, but also in some cases in the rostrocaudal and dorsoventral, dimensions of the zone. On the other hand, mossy fibre units with non-identical, albeit usually similar, receptive fields were frequently found in the same microelectrode track.