Cerebellar cortical inhibition and classical eyeblink conditioning

Shaowen Bao, Lu Chen, Jeansok J. Kim, Richard F. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The cerebellum is considered a brain structure in which memories for learned motor responses (e.g., conditioned eyeblink responses) are stored. Within the cerebellum, however, the relative importance of the cortex and the deep nuclei in motor learning/memory is not entirely clear. In this study, we show that the cerebellar cortex exerts both basal and stimulus-activated inhibition to the deep nuclei. Sequential application of a γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABAAR) agonist and a noncompetitive GABAAR antagonist allows selective blockade of stimulus-activated inhibition. By using the same sequential agonist and antagonist methods in behaving animals, we demonstrate that the conditioned response (CR) expression and timing are completely dissociable and involve different inhibitory inputs; although the basal inhibition modulates CR expression, the conditioned stimulus-activated inhibition is required for the proper timing of the CR. In addition, complete blockade of cerebellar deep nuclear GABAARs prevents CR acquisition. Together, these results suggest that different aspects of the memories for eyeblink CRs are encoded in the cerebellar cortex and the cerebellar deep nuclei.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1592-1597
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 5 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebellar cortex
  • Cerebellar deep nuclei
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • γ-aminobutyric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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