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Coding of stimulus strength via analog calcium signals in Purkinje cell dendrites of awake mice

Author(s): Najafi, Farzaneh; Giovannucci, Andrea; Wang, Samuel S-H; Medina, Javier F

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Abstract: The climbing fiber input to Purkinje cells acts as a teaching signal by triggering a massive influx of dendritic calcium that marks the occurrence of instructive stimuli during cerebellar learning. Here, we challenge the view that these calcium spikes are all-or-none and only signal whether the instructive stimulus has occurred, without providing parametric information about its features. We imaged ensembles of Purkinje cell dendrites in awake mice and measured their calcium responses to periocular airpuffs that serve as instructive stimuli during cerebellar-dependent eyeblink conditioning. Information about airpuff duration and pressure was encoded probabilistically across repeated trials, and in two additional signals in single trials: the synchrony of calcium spikes in the Purkinje cell population, and the amplitude of the calcium spikes, which was modulated by a non-climbing fiber pathway. These results indicate that calcium-based teaching signals in Purkinje cells contain analog information that encodes the strength of instructive stimuli trial-by-trial.
Publication Date: 9-Sep-2014
Citation: Najafi, Farzaneh, Giovannucci, Andrea, Wang, Samuel S-H, Medina, Javier F. (Coding of stimulus strength via analog calcium signals in Purkinje cell dendrites of awake mice. eLife, 3 (e03663 - e03663). doi:10.7554/eLife.03663
DOI: doi:10.7554/eLife.03663
ISSN: 2050-084X
Pages: e03663 - e03663
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: eLife
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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