Plasticity within non-cerebellar pathways rapidly shapes motor performance in vivo

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17 Scopus citations


Although cerebellar mechanisms are vital to maintain accuracy during complex movements and to calibrate simple reflexes, recent in vitro studies have called into question the widely held view that synaptic changes within cerebellar pathways exclusively guide alterations in motor performance. Here we investigate the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) circuitry by applying temporally precise activation of vestibular afferents in awake-behaving monkeys to link plasticity at different neural sites with changes in motor performance. Behaviourally relevant activation patterns produce rapid attenuation of direct pathway VOR neurons, but not their nerve input. Changes in the strength of this pathway are sufficient to induce a lasting decrease in the evoked VOR. In addition, indirect brainstem pathways display complementary nearly instantaneous changes, contributing to compensating for the reduced sensitivity of primary VOR neurons. Taken together, our data provide evidence that multiple sites of plasticity within VOR pathways can rapidly shape motor performance in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11238
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - May 9 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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