Behavioral state modulation of associative learning in mouse cerebellum

Delay eyeblink conditioning is a relatively simple form of cerebellum-dependent associative learning. Recent work has demonstrated, however, that neither the learned behavior nor its underlying neural circuitry are as simple as once thought. We have recently found that locomotor activity modulates delay eyeblink conditioning through mechanisms that act on the mossy fiber pathway within the cerebellar cortex. These results suggest a novel role for behavioral state modulation in associative learning and provide a potential mechanism through which engaging in movement can improve an individual’s ability to learn. Ongoing experiments are investigating the mechanisms and consequences of this modulation.

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