The cerebellum is essential for the control of multijoint movements; when the cerebellum is lesioned, the performance error is more than the summed errors produced by single joints. In the companion paper ( Schweighofer et al. 1998 ), a functional anatomical model for visually guided arm movement was proposed. The model comprised a basic feedforward/feedback controller with realistic transmission delays and was connected to a two-link, six-muscle, planar arm. In the present study, we examined the role of the cerebellum in reaching movements by embedding a novel, detailed cerebellar neural network in this functional control model. We could derive realistic cerebellar inputs and the role of the cerebellum in learning to control the arm was assessed.
This cerebellar network learned the part of the inverse dynamics of the arm not provided by the basic feedforward/feedback controller. Despite realistically low inferior olive firing rates and noisy mossy fibre inputs, the model could reduce the error between intended and planned movements. The responses of the different cell groups were comparable to those of biological cell groups. In particular, the modelled Purkinje cells exhibited directional tuning after learning and the parallel fibres, due to their length, provide Purkinje cells with the input required for this coordination task. The inferior olive responses contained two different components; the earlier response, locked to movement onset, was always present and the later response disappeared after learning. These results support the theory that the cerebellum is involved in motor learning.