• cell counts;
  • competition;
  • inferior olive;
  • neuronal death;
  • target size;
  • unilateral pedunculotomy


Neuronal death in the inferior olivary complex (IOC) was studied in control and unilaterally pedunculotomized newborn rats, from postnatal day 1 (P1) to P30, in order to test whether the approximately two-fold increase in available specific targets (i.e. Purkinje cells) that is theoretically provided by sectioning one inferior cerebellar peduncle to the developing climbing fibres of the remaining IOC could prevent the loss of inferior olivary neurons taking place during the first 2 weeks of postnatal life in the rat. Numerical estimation of the number of inferior olivary neurons in control and experimental rats showed that (i) in pedunculotomized rats, the number of inferior olivary neurons of the remaining inferior olivary complex was always greater than that encountered in control rats, (ii) the consistent decrease in the number of inferior olivary neurons observed in control animals between P2 and P8 was absent in cell counts of the pedunculotomized rats, and (iii) the increase in olivary cell number following the phase of cell decrease was also absent in pedunculotomized rats. It is concluded that the increase of available Purkinje cells during early postnatal development of the olivocerebellar projection prevents neuronal death in the remaining inferior olivary complex following pedunculotomy.