No Medium-Term Spinocerebellar Input Plasticity in Deep Cerebellar Nuclear Neurons In Vivo?
The existence of input plasticity in the deep cerebellar nuclear (DCN) cells of the adult cerebellum could have profound implications for our understanding of cerebellar function. Whereas the existence of plastic changes in mossy fiber (mf) synaptic responses in DCN neurons has been demonstrated in juvenile slices, there has so far been no direct demonstration of this form of plasticity in the adult cerebellum in vivo. In the present paper, we recorded from neurons in the anterior interposed nucleus (AIN) and stimulated the spinocerebellar tracts (SCT) directly or via the skin to obtain mf activation and the inferior olive to activate climbing fibers (cfs) in the nonanesthetized, adult, decerebrated cat. We used three different types of protocols that theoretically could be expected to induce plasticity, each of which involved episodically intense afferent activation lasting for 10 min. These were conjunctive mf-cf activation, which effectively induces plasticity in cortical neurons; mf and cf activation in a pattern resembling the protocol for inducing classical conditioning; and conjunctive activation of two excitatory mf inputs. None of these protocols had any statistically significant effect on the evoked responses in the AIN neurons. We conclude that the input plasticity for excitatory mfs in the AIN cells of the adult cerebellum in vivo is likely to be less effective than that of parallel fiber synaptic inputs in cerebellar cortical cells, at least in the timespan of 1 h.