Coding in silence: Precise control of movement kinematics by optogenetic inhibition of Purkinje cells

Monday, November 23rd, 2015, 11:00 am
Elmore Auditorium
Javier F. Medina, PhD - Baylor College of Medicine
Jason Christie, PhD
(561) 972-9000

Event Information

Purkinje cells are thought to control our movements by modulating their spiking activity, but the underlying code is not known. I will show that Purkinje cells in an eyeblink-related area of mouse cerebellar cortex learn to suppress their high spontaneous firing rate during the execution of a conditioned eyelid movement. To investigate if the transient suppression of Purkinje cell firing is causally linked to motor output, we inhibited Purkinje cells optogenetically and showed that we could evoke eyeblinks whose kinematic properties were precisely regulated according to the parameters of the optogenetic stimulation. Downstream neurons in the anterior interpositus nucleus showed substantial increases in firing rate during the optogenetic stimulation. These results demonstrate that a transient and synchronized suppression of Purkinje cell activity can generate movement directly, and may help sculpt the timing and kinematics of motor output via graded disinhibition of neurons in the deep cerebellar nuclei.

This seminar is open to faculty, scientists, and students from Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and the Scripps Research Institute Florida, located on FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter, Florida. If you belong to an institution outside of the Jupiter campus and would like to attend, please send a request to