The granular layer is the input layer of the cerebellar cortex. It receives information through mossy fibers, which contact local granular layer interneurons (GLIs) and granular layer output neurons (granule cells). GLIs provide one of the first signal processing stages in the cerebellar cortex by exciting or inhibiting granule cells. Despite the importance of this early processing stage for later cerebellar computations, the responses of GLIs and the functional connections of mossy fibers with GLIs in awake animals are poorly understood. Here, we recorded GLIs and mossy fibers in the macaque ventral-paraflocculus (VPFL) during oculomotor tasks, providing the first full inventory of GLI responses in the VPFL of awake primates. We found that while mossy fiber responses are characterized by a linear monotonic relationship between firing rate and eye position, GLIs show complex response profiles characterized by “eye position fields” and single or double directional tunings. For the majority of GLIs, prominent features of their responses can be explained by assuming that a single GLI receives inputs from mossy fibers with similar or opposite directional preferences, and that these mossy fiber inputs influence GLI discharge through net excitatory or inhibitory pathways. Importantly, GLIs receiving mossy fiber inputs through these putative excitatory and inhibitory pathways show different firing properties, suggesting that they indeed correspond to two distinct classes of interneurons. We propose a new interpretation of the information flow through the cerebellar cortex granular layer, in which mossy fiber input patterns drive the responses of GLIs not only through excitatory but also through net inhibitory pathways, and that excited and inhibited GLIs can be identified based on their responses and their intrinsic properties.
Jean, L., Shane, A. H., Gyutae, K., & Pablo, M. B. (2013). Cerebellar Cortex Granular Layer Interneurons in the Macaque Monkey Are Functionally Driven by Mossy Fiber Pathways through Net Excitation or Inhibition. PloS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082239