Simulating spinal border cells and cerebellar granule cells under locomotion--a case study of spinocerebellar information processing
The spinocerebellar systems are essential for the brain in the performance of coordinated movements, but our knowledge about the spinocerebellar interactions is very limited. Recently, several crucial pieces of information have been acquired for the spinal border cell (SBC) component of the ventral spinocerebellar tract (VSCT), as well as the effects of SBC mossy fiber activation in granule cells of the cerebellar cortex. SBCs receive monosynaptic input from the reticulospinal tract (RST), which is an important driving system under locomotion, and disynaptic inhibition from Ib muscle afferents. The patterns of activity of RST neurons and Ib afferents under locomotion are known. The activity of VSCT neurons under fictive locomotion, i.e. without sensory feedback, is also known, but there is little information on how these neurons behave under actual locomotion and for cerebellar granule cells receiving SBC input this is completely unknown. But the available information makes it possible to simulate the interactions between the spinal and cerebellar neuronal circuitries with a relatively large set of biological constraints. Using a model of the various neuronal elements and the network they compose, we simulated the modulation of the SBCs and their target granule cells under locomotion and hence generated testable predictions of their general pattern of modulation under this condition. This particular system offers a unique opportunity to simulate these interactions with a limited number of assumptions, which helps making the model biologically plausible. Similar principles of information processing may be expected to apply to all spinocerebellar systems.