October 23, 2020

Dual contributions of cerebellar-thalamic networks to learning and offline consolidation of a complex motor task.

The contribution of cerebellum to motor learning is often considered to be limited to adaptation, a short-timescale tuning of reflexes and previous learned skills. Yet, the cerebellum is reciprocally connected to two main players of motor learning, the motor cortex and the basal ganglia, via the ventral and midline thalamus respectively. Here, we evaluated the contribution of cerebellar neurons projecting to these thalamic nuclei in a skilled locomotion task in mice. In the cerebellar nuclei, we found task-specific neuronal activities during the task, and lasting changes after the task suggesting an offline processing of task-related information. Using pathway-specific inhibition, we found that dentate neurons projecting to the midline thalamus contribute to learning and retrieval, while interposed neurons projecting to the ventral thalamus contribute to the offline consolidation of savings. Our results thus show that two parallel cerebello-thalamic pathways perform distinct computations operating on distinct timescales in motor learning.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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