Extracellular Loose-Patch Recording of Purkinje Cell Activity in Awake Zebrafish and Emergence of Functional Cerebellar Circuit

  • Jui-Yi Hsieh
  • Diane M. PapazianEmail author
Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 134)


The cerebellum calibrates movements for accuracy and precision and is critical for motor learning. Purkinje cells, which are the sole output neurons of the cerebellar cortex, play an essential role in fine-tuning motor behavior. Determining how sensory stimuli, after processing by higher brain centers, modulate Purkinje cell activity and how changes in Purkinje cell firing improve the accuracy of movement is crucial for understanding cerebellar function. Due to its rapid development, small size, and transparency, the zebrafish is a promising system for functional brain mapping and for investigating the neural control of behavior in a vertebrate animal. To aid in understanding the role of the cerebellum in behavior, we have developed an approach for recording the electrical activity of cerebellar Purkinje cells in live, awake zebrafish using extracellular loose-patch electrodes. Using this method, we have found that zebrafish Purkinje cells fire simple and complex spikes similar to those seen in mammalian Purkinje cells. Spontaneous firing and a functional cerebellar circuit emerge early in zebrafish development in parallel with complex, visually guided behaviors. This preparation has significant advantages for investigating the effects of sensory stimuli on Purkinje cell firing, mapping the functional effects of afferent inputs to the cerebellum, and exploring how the cerebellum fine-tunes motor behavior.


Purkinje cell Cerebellar circuit Zebrafish Complex spike Pacemaking activity Brain mapping 



With the exception of Fig. 5a, c, the data in this paper were originally published by Hsieh et al. (2014) (Ref. 31). This work was supported by NIH grant R01NS058500 and a UCLA Stein-Oppenheimer Seed Grant to DMP. JYH was partially supported by the Jennifer S. Buchwald Graduate Fellowship in Physiology at UCLA. We are grateful to Drs. Thomas Otis, Joanna Jen, Fadi Issa, and Jijun Wan for advice and helpful discussions. We thank Dr. Masahiko Hibi for the gift of a pT2K aldoca:gap43-Venus plasmid.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology and the Interdepartmental Program in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative PhysiologyDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Circuit Therapeutics, Inc.Menlo ParkUSA

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