Learning motor skills is critical for motor abilities such as driving a car or playing piano. The speed at which we learn those skills is subject to many factors. Yet, it is not known to what extent gonadal hormones can affect the achievement of accurate movements in time and space. Here we demonstrate via different lines of evidence that estradiol promotes plasticity in the cerebellar cortex underlying motor learning. First, we show that estradiol enhances induction of long-term potentiation at the parallel fiber to Purkinje cell synapse, whereas it does not affect long-term depression; second, we show that estradiol activation of estrogen receptor β receptors in Purkinje cells significantly improves gain-decrease adaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, whereas it does not affect general eye movement performance; and third, we show that estradiol increases the density of parallel fiber to Purkinje cell synapses, whereas it does not affect the density of climbing fiber synapses. We conclude that estradiol can improve motor skills by potentiating cerebellar plasticity and synapse formation. These processes may be advantageous during periods of high estradiol levels of the estrous cycle or pregnancy. Copyright

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doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2588-07.2007, hdl.handle.net/1765/35894
The Journal of Neuroscience
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Andreescu, C., Milojkovic, B., Haasdijk, E., Kramer, P., de Jong, F., Krust, A., … Jeu, M. (2007). Estradiol improves cerebellar memory formation by activating estrogen receptor β. The Journal of Neuroscience, 27(40), 10832–10839. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2588-07.2007