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Keywords:

  • inferior olive;
  • parallel fibers;
  • oscillations;
  • imaging;
  • electrical coupling;
  • timing

Abstract: The large number of diverse functions attributed to the cerebellum appears to be inconsistent with its simple, homogeneous and evolutionary preserved structure. A homogeneous structure that participates in a variety of functions implies that a common denominator underlies all of them. Since the concept of precise timing can be recognized in almost all cerebellar functions, it is likely, therefore, that the basic cerebellar circuit is capable of generating temporal patterns. Of the different mechanisms that can generate temporal patterns, two are suggested by the functional anatomy of the cerbellum: transmission lines or oscillators. Our recent experimental observations indicate that the olivary oscillatory property is more likely to serve this function. We propose that interactions between the cerebellum and the inferior olive endow the system with the ability to generate complex temporal patterns. These temporal patterns can be used for fine adjustment of motor output, sensory expectation, or shifting attentions.