Depression of inhibitory synaptic transmission between Purkinje cells and neurons of the cerebellar nuclei

Petra Telgkamp, Indira M. Raman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Neurons of the cerebellar nuclei have basal firing rates of 10-20 Hz, despite the convergence of many GABAergic Purkinje terminals onto cerebellar nuclear somata and the high spontaneous firing rate of Purkinje neurons. This persistence of firing during a constant barrage of inhibition raises the question of what patterns of Purkinje cell input inhibit nuclear cells most effectively. To explore the hypothesis that synaptic depression moderates inhibition at this synapse, we made whole-cell recordings from cerebellar nuclear neurons in mouse brain slices. IPSCs and IPSPs were elicited by electrically stimulating the corticonuclear tract at 10, 50, and 100 Hz. IPSCs evoked at the mean spontaneous firing rate of Purkinje cells (50 Hz) depressed by -60%. The onset of depression had a fast, frequency-dependent component, from which recovery was rapid (-100 msec), and a slower, frequency-independent component, from which recovery was slow (-10 sec). As stimulation rate increased, steady-state depression increased, but each IPSC decayed less completely between stimuli, producing a "tonic" IPSC. Changes in stimulation rate produced rapid changes in the level of depression. Under current clamp, cerebellar nuclear neurons fired spontaneously. During 50 Hz trains of IPSPs, firing was initially interrupted, but resumed coincident with the onset of depression. Low-frequency trains entrained postsynaptic firing, and high-frequency trains greatly slowed firing, primarily because of the tonic IPSC. Thus, the properties of depression at this synapse appear to limit the sensitivity of nuclear cells to basal inhibition, while allowing the cells to respond to increases and decreases in Purkinje cell activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8447-8457
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002


  • Deep cerebellar
  • Frequency-dependence
  • GABA
  • IPSC
  • Interpositus
  • Nuclei
  • Paired-pulse depression
  • Short-term plasticity
  • Spontaneous activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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