Diversity of Neuronal Elements and Circuitry in the Cerebellar Nuclei
The afferent and efferent synaptic connections of the cerebellar nuclei (CN) place them in a key position where they can integrate sensory signals with the output from cerebellar cortex and to provide the main efferent pathway of the cerebellum. While this conclusion can be derived based on purely anatomical knowledge, it remains unknown in which manner the CN contributes to the generation of cerebellar output signals that are involved in creating timing signals and temporal patters. As a first step towards understanding the role neuronal circuits of the CN, the major CN neuronal types are now identified based on expression patterns of neurotransmitters (GABA and glycine) and characterized both in electrophysiological and morphological manner. The classification—likely to be refined in the future—consists of six types: four classes of projection and two classes of local neurons. The classification is a combination of electrophysiological and morphological methods with the expression pattern of GAD67 and GlyT2, markers for GABAergic and glycinergic neurons, respectively (Uusisaari et al. J Neurophysiol 97:901–911, 2007; Uusisaari and Knöpfel, Cerebellum 10(4):637–46, 2010).
KeywordsCerebellum Cerebellar nuclei Neural circuits