In vitro whole-cell recordings of the inferior olive have demonstrated that its neurons are electrotonically coupled and have a tendency to oscillate. However, it remains to be shown to what extent subthreshold oscillations do indeed occur in the inferior olive in vivo and whether its spatiotemporal firing pattern may be dynamically generated by including or excluding different types of oscillatory neurons. Here, we did whole-cell recordings of olivary neurons in vivo to investigate the relation between their subthreshold activities and their spiking behavior in an intact brain. The vast majority of neurons (85%) showed subthreshold oscillatory activities. The frequencies of these subthreshold oscillations were used to distinguish four main olivary subtypes by statistical means. Type I showed both sinusoidal subthreshold oscillations (SSTOs) and low-threshold Ca2+oscillations (LTOs) (16%); type II showed only sinusoidal subthreshold oscillations (13%); type III showed only low-threshold Ca2+oscillations (56%); and type IV did not reveal any subthreshold oscillations (15%). These subthreshold oscillation frequencies were strongly correlated with the frequencies of preferred spiking. The frequency characteristics of the subthreshold oscillations and spiking behavior of virtually all olivary neurons were stable throughout the recordings. However, the occurrence of spontaneous or evoked action potentials modified the subthreshold oscillation by resetting the phase of its peak toward 90° . Together, these findings indicate that the inferior olive in intact mammals offers a rich repertoire of different neurons with relatively stable frequency settings, which can be used to generate and reset temporal firing patterns in a dynamically coupled ensemble.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Khosrovani, S., van der Giessen, R. S., de Zeeuw, C., & Jeu, M. (2007). In vivo mouse inferior olive neurons exhibit heterogeneous subthreshold oscillations and spiking patterns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(40), 15911–15916. doi:10.1073/pnas.0702727104