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Dynamic organization of motor control within the olivocerebellar system


WHAT is the role of the cerebellum in motor coordination? Such coordination depends upon the integrity of the inferior olive, a major cerebellar afferent, as its lesion produces ataxic and dys-metric movement abnormalities1–2. Using multiple-microelectrode recordings, we report here that there are domains of Purkinje cell activity that are generated by olivary input during skilled tongue movements in rats. Such activity domains are highly rhythmic and time-locked to movement. Patterns of synchronous olivocerebellar activity are geometrically complex and can change during a sequence of movements. The results support the view that the inferior olive organizes movement in time, by entraining motor-neuronal firing through rhythmic activation of the cerebellum, and in space, by synchronously activating cell ensembles that allow the use of individual muscles. Dynamic repatterning of olivocerebellar synchrony may allow different combinations of muscles to be used for movements intended to have varying spatial structures.

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Welsh, J., Lang, E., Suglhara, I. et al. Dynamic organization of motor control within the olivocerebellar system. Nature 374, 453–457 (1995).

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