During natural learning, synaptic plasticity is thought to evolve dynamically and redistribute within and among subcircuits. This process should emerge in plastic neural networks evolving under behavioral feedback and should involve changes distributed across multiple synaptic sites. In eyeblink classical conditioning (EBCC), the cerebellum learns to predict the precise timing between two stimuli, hence EBCC represents an elementary yet meaningful paradigm to investigate the cerebellar network functioning. We have simulated EBCC mechanisms by reconstructing a realistic cerebellar microcircuit model and embedding multiple plasticity rules imitating those revealed experimentally. The model was tuned to fit experimental EBCC human data, estimating the underlying learning time-constants. Learning started rapidly with plastic changes in the cerebellar cortex followed by slower changes in the deep cerebellar nuclei. This process was characterized by differential development of long-term potentiation and depression at individual synapses, with a progressive accumulation of plasticity distributed over the whole network. The experimental data included two EBCC sessions interleaved by a trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The experimental and the model response data were not significantly different in each learning phase, and the model goodness-of-fit was (Formula presented.) for all the experimental conditions. The models fitted on TMS data revealed a slowed down re-acquisition (sessions-2) compared to the control condition ((Formula presented.)). The plasticity parameters characterizing each model significantly differ among conditions, and thus mechanistically explain these response changes. Importantly, the model was able to capture the alteration in EBCC consolidation caused by TMS and showed that TMS affected plasticity at cortical synapses thereby altering the fast learning phase. This, secondarily, also affected plasticity in deep cerebellar nuclei altering learning dynamics in the entire sensory-motor loop. This observation reveals dynamic redistribution of changes over the entire network and suggests how TMS affects local circuit computation and memory processing in the cerebellum.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Networks and Communications