Connections between neurons in the brain have physiological and morphological properties that can be altered over time to facilitate a behavioural acquisition process known as learning. I utilised behavioural tasks, electrophysiological, and tissue imaging techniques to study the physiological and morphological characteristics of Purkinje cells: the sole cortical output of the cerebellum. This dissertation consists of two parts. The first part explores experimental evidence for cerebellar dysfunction in cognitive related disease, like autism. The second part is focused on the fundamental aspects of Purkinje cell functioning with genetic mutations that lead to altered protein expression causing lasting dysfunctional synaptic functioning and consequentially impaired learning. I have performed experiments to study different types of input to the Purkinje cell to reveal synaptic changes that are ongoing and responsible for the aberrant cerebellum dependent learning. The work done here would not have been possible without the effort of many collaborators that helped reveal how genetic modifications can cause differential physiological and behavioural phenotypes.

Purkinje, ASD, Cerebellum, Motor Learning, Synaptic plasticity
C.I. de Zeeuw (Chris) , F.E. Hoebeek (Freek)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Neuroscience

Peter, S. (2018, December 11). Purkinje Cell Physiology in Health and Disease. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from