Distribution of spinocerebellar Purkinje cell responses to passive forelimb movements in the rat


: Professor Vincenzo Perciavalle, as above.
E-mail: perciava@mbox.unict.it


We recorded Purkinje cell activity throughout the spinocerebellum of anaesthetized rats while imposing circular passive movements to the unrestrained forelimb. The aim was to understand the type of processing of sensory information occurring at the level of the cerebellar cortex, on the basis that precerebellar sensory neurons have been shown to represent whole limb movement parameters better than single joint movements. We observed that neurons representing sensory aspects of arm movements were scattered throughout the spinocerebellar cortex without a distinct segregation from those that did not respond, albeit the relative density of responsive and unresponsive neurons was quite variable and depended on the area of the cortex. Furthermore, Purkinje cells that responded significantly to the arm movement cycles all showed the same response pattern consisting of a firing rate increase during the downward extension of the arm. These results are discussed as suggesting a coordinate framework for the representation of proprioceptive information in the cerebellum congruent to that observed for encoding motor parameters.