Broad directional tuning in spinal projections to the cerebellum

G. Bosco, R. E. Poppele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Spinocerebellar neurons that project in the dorsal spinocerebellar tract (DSCT) receive mono- and polysynaptic inputs from specific sensory receptors in the hindlimb, and they project mossy fiber terminals to the cerebellar vermis. We examined the functional organization of these neurons and found that it relates to whole-limb parameters like limb posture and direction of limb movement. 2. We recorded the activity of 444 DSCT units during passive perturbations of the hind foot in anesthetized cats. The movements were either confined a single joint (the ankle; 234 cells) or involved the entire hindlimb (210 cells). The cells exhibited opposite responses for opposite directions of whole-limb movement, but a variety of response patterns for opposite directions of movement at one joint. We interpret the result to imply that the population encodes information about the whole limb rather than single joints. 3. Most of the 78 neurons recorded during passive limb placements (63%) responded to changes in limb length and also changes in limb orientation. In fact, the activity of most of the cells was broadly tuned with respect to the direction of passive limb movements generated by moving the hind foot in the sagittal plane. Changes in unit activity could be described by a cosine tuning function with respect to foot positions (72% of responses) and directions of foot movement (50%). 4. The similarity of this behavior to that of neurons in the motor cortex and cerebellar nuclei recorded during voluntary movements is consistent with a common neural code to represent the sensorimotor parameters of limb movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-866
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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