The inferior olive, which provides the climbing fibers to Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex, has been implicated in various functions, such as learning and timing of movements, and comparing intended with achieved movements. For example, climbing-fiber activity could transmit error signals during eye-blink conditioning or adaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, or it could carry motor command signals beating on the rhythm of the oscillating and synchronous firing of ensembles of olivary neurons, or both. In this review, we approach the controversial issue of olivocerebellar function from the perspective of the unique organization of the microcircuitry of the olivary neuropil. The characteristic glomeruli are formed by a core of long dendritic or axonal spines, each of which is innervated by both an inhibitory terminal derived from the hindbrain and an excitatory terminal derived from either an ascending or descending input. The dendritic spines, which originate from dendrites with varicosities carrying dendritic lamellar bodies, are coupled by gap junctions. By drawing a comparison with a computational model by Segev and Rail, which might be applicable to the typical olivary spine with its unique morphological features and combined excitatory and inhibitory input, we propose that the microcircuitry of the inferior olive is capable of functioning both in motor learning and motor timing, but does not directly compare intended with achieved movements.,
Trends in Neurosciences
Department of Neuroscience

de Zeeuw, C., Hoogenraad, C., Koekkoek, B., Ruigrok, T., Galjart, N., & Simpson, J. (1998). Microcircuitry and function of the inferior olive. Trends in Neurosciences (Vol. 21, pp. 391–400). doi:10.1016/S0166-2236(98)01310-1