The modular concept of cerebellar connections has been advocated in the lifetime work of Jan Voogd. In this concept, a cerebellar module is defined as the conglomerate of one or multiple and non-adjacent, parasagittally arranged zones of Purkinje cells, their specific projection to a well-defined region of the cerebellar nuclei, and the climbing fiber input to these zones by a well-defined region of the inferior olivary complex. The modular organization of these olivo-cortico-nuclear connections is further exemplified by matching reciprocal connections between inferior olive and cerebellar nuclei. Because the different regions of the cerebellar nuclei show highly specific output patterns, cerebellar modules have been suggested to constitute functional entities. This idea is strengthened by the observation that anatomically defined modules adhere to the distribution of chemical markers in the cerebellar cortex suggesting that modules not only differ in their input and output relations but also may differ in operational capabilities. Here, I will briefly review some recent data on the establishment of cerebellar modules in rats. Furthermore, some evidence will be shown suggesting that the other main afferent system (i.e., mossy fibers), at least to some extent, also adheres to the modular organization. Finally, using retrograde transneuronal tracing with rabies virus, some evidence will be provided that several cerebellar modules may be involved in the control of individual muscles.

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Keywords Cerebellar modules, Climbing fibers, Connections, Mossy fibers, Purkinje cells, Rabies tracing
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Journal The Cerebellum
Ruigrok, T.J.H. (2010). Ins and Outs of Cerebellar Modules. The Cerebellum, 1–11. doi:10.1007/s12311-010-0164-y