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Spatio-temporal Activity Patterns as a Key to Cerebellar Function


Braitenberg,  V
Former Department Structure and Function of Natural Nerve-Net, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Braitenberg, V. (2003). Spatio-temporal Activity Patterns as a Key to Cerebellar Function. Poster presented at 29th Göttingen Neurobiology Conference, Göttingen, Germany.

In no other part of the nervous system is the internal connectivity as thoroughly known as in the cerebellar cortex. Moreover, although other cortices are not known in comparable detail, one can confidently assert that the pattern in the cerebellum is unique. This would seem to make it possible to go directly from the elementary mesh of the cerebellar network to a definition of its global operation, and hence to an explanation of the "functions" of the normal cerebellum and of the "symptoms"of its derailment, as they appear to the clinical neurologist. Nobody has succeded in building this bridge, in spite of some proposals which were seductive in their generality, but too general to serve as an explanation of the uniqueness of the cerebellum. The stagnation of our theorizing is not caused by lack of experimental findings, which have been forthcoming at an impressive rate in recent years. Rather, it seems that most of the experiments were not so much aimed at an elucidation of the special kind of computation typical for the cerebellum, as at questions which apply to the nervous system everywhere, such as membrane physiology and plasticity on one hand, the mapping of input and output connections on the other. In this situation it seems legitimate to take a fresh start by reproposing once more the level of analysis where the cerebellum is most characteristically itself, the level intermediate between cytology and fiber bundle tracing, that of the geometry of the intracortical fiber felt.