Article abstract

Nature Neuroscience 12, 463 - 473 (2009)
Published online: 15 March 2009 | doi:10.1038/nn.2285

Traveling waves in developing cerebellar cortex mediated by asymmetrical Purkinje cell connectivity

Alanna J Watt1, Hermann Cuntz1, Masahiro Mori1,2, Zoltan Nusser3, P Jesper Sjöström1 & Michael Häusser1

Correlated network activity is important in the development of many neural circuits. Purkinje cells are among the first neurons to populate the cerebellar cortex, where they sprout exuberant axon collaterals. We used multiple patch-clamp recordings targeted with two-photon microscopy to characterize monosynaptic connections between the Purkinje cells of juvenile mice. We found that Purkinje cell axon collaterals projected asymmetrically in the sagittal plane, directed away from the lobule apex. On the basis of our anatomical and physiological characterization of this connection, we constructed a network model that robustly generated waves of activity that traveled along chains of connected Purkinje cells. Consistent with the model, we observed traveling waves of activity in Purkinje cells in sagittal slices from young mice that require GABAA receptor–mediated transmission and intact Purkinje cell axon collaterals. These traveling waves are absent in adult mice, suggesting they have a developmental role in wiring the cerebellar cortical microcircuit.

  1. Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research and Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, UK.
  2. Department of Physiology and Biological Information, Dokkyo Medical University, Shimotsuga-gun, Tochigi, Japan.
  3. Laboratory of Cellular Neurophysiology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Correspondence to: Alanna J Watt1 e-mail:


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