Cerebellar Purkinje cells have two distinct action potentials: complex spikes (CSs) are evoked by single climbing fibers that originate from the contralateral inferior olive. Simple spikes (SSs) are often ascribed to mossy fiber-granule cell-parallel fiber inputs to Purkinje cells. Although generally accepted, this view lacks experimental support. Vestibular stimulation independently activates primary afferent mossy fibers and tertiary afferent climbing fibers that project to the uvula-nodulus (folia 8 -10). CSs and SSs normally discharge antiphasically during sinusoidal roll-tilt. When CSs increase, SSs decrease. We tested the relative independence of these pathways in mice by making electrolytic microlesions of the two inferior olivary nuclei from which vestibular climbing fibers originate; the β-nucleus and dorsomedial cell column. This reduced vestibular climbing fiber signaling to the contralateral folia 8 -10, while leaving intact vestibular primary and secondary afferent mossy fibers.Werecorded from Purkinje cells and interneurons in folia 8 -10, identified by juxtacellular labeling with Neurobiotin. Microlesions of the inferior olive increased the spontaneous discharge of SSs in contralateral folia 8 -10, but blocked their modulation during vestibular stimulation. The vestibularly evoked discharge of excitatory cerebellar interneurons (granule cells and unipolar brush cells) was not modified by olivary microlesions. The modulated discharge of stellate cells, but not Golgi cells, was reduced by olivary microlesions. We conclude that vestibular modulation of CSs and SSs depends on intact climbing fibers. The absence of vestibularly modulated SSs following olivary microlesions reflects the loss of climbing fiber-evoked stellate cell discharge.
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