The Cerebellum: A Neuronal Learning Machine?

Science  24 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5265, pp. 1126-1131
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5265.1126


Comparison of two seemingly quite different behaviors yields a surprisingly consistent picture of the role of the cerebellum in motor learning. Behavioral and physiological data about classical conditioning of the eyelid response and motor learning in the vestibulo-ocular reflex suggest that (i) plasticity is distributed between the cerebellar cortex and the deep cerebellar nuclei; (ii) the cerebellar cortex plays a special role in learning the timing of movement; and (iii) the cerebellar cortex guides learning in the deep nuclei, which may allow learning to be transferred from the cortex to the deep nuclei. Because many of the similarities in the data from the two systems typify general features of cerebellar organization, the cerebellar mechanisms of learning in these two systems may represent principles that apply to many motor systems.

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