We demonstrate that single interneurons can toggle the output neurons of the cerebellar cortex (the Purkinje cells) between their two states. The firing of Purkinje cells has previously been shown to alternate between an "up" state in which the cell fires spontaneous action potentials and a silent "down" state. We show here that small hyperpolarizing currents in Purkinje cells can bidirectionally toggle Purkinje cells between down and up states and that blockade of the hyperpolarization-activated cation channels (H channels) with the specific antagonist ZD7288 (10 microM) blocks the transitions from down to up states. Likewise, hyperpolarizing inhibitory postsnyaptic potentials (IPSPs) produced by small bursts of action potentials (10 action potentials at 50 Hz) in molecular-layer interneurons induce these bidirectional transitions in Purkinje cells. Furthermore, single interneurons in paired interneuron --> Purkinje cell recordings, produce bidirectional switches between the two states of Purkinje cells. The ability of molecular-layer interneurons to toggle Purkinje cells occurs when Purkinje cells are recorded under whole-cell patch-clamp conditions as well as when action potentials are recorded in an extracellular loose cell-attached configuration. The mode switch demonstrated here indicates that a single presynaptic interneuron can have opposite effects on the output of a given Purkinje cell, which introduces a unique type of synaptic interaction that may play an important role in cerebellar signaling.
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