Synaptic integration in cerebellar granule cells
To understand the function of cerebellar granule cells, we need detailed knowledge about the information carried by their afferent mossy fibers and how this information is integrated by the granule cells. Recently, we made whole cell recordings from granule cells in the non-anesthetized, decerebrate cats. All recordings were made in the forelimb area of the C3 zone for which the afferent and efferent connections and functional organization have been investigated in detail. Major findings of the study were that the mossy fiber input to single granule cells was modality- and receptive field-specific and that simultaneous activity in two and usually more of the afferent mossy fibers were required to activate the granule cell spike. The high threshold for action potentials and the convergence of afferents with virtually identical information suggest that an important function of granule cells is to increase the signal-to-noise ratio of the mossy fiber–parallel fiber information. Thus a high-sensitivity, noisy mossy fiber input is transformed by the granule cell to a high-sensitivity, low-noise signal.