Specific relationship between excitatory inputs and climbing fiber receptive fields in deep cerebellar nuclear neurons
Many mossy fiber pathways to the neurons of the deep cerebellar nucleus (DCN) originate from the spinal motor circuitry. For cutaneously activated spinal neurons, the receptive field is a tag indicating the specific motor function the spinal neuron has. Similarly, the climbing fiber receptive field of the DCN neuron reflects the specific motor output function of the DCN neuron. To explore the relationship between the motor information the DCN neuron receives and the output it issues, we made patch clamp recordings of DCN cell responses to tactile skin stimulation in the forelimb region of the anterior interposed nucleus in vivo. The excitatory responses were organized according to a general principle, in which the DCN cell responses became stronger the closer the skin site was located to its climbing fiber receptive field. The findings represent a novel functional principle of cerebellar connectivity, with crucial importance for our understanding of the function of the cerebellum in movement coordination.