The effects of fear conditioning on cerebellar LTP and LTD


Long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) at parallel fibre-Purkinje cell synapses have been described in vitro in the cerebellar cortex, but the physiological roles of these two forms of plasticity have not been well defined. Here we show that, in cerebellar slices taken from rats that had undergone fear conditioning, there was a significant occlusion of electrically induced LTP at parallel fibre-Purkinje cell synapses. This effect was long-lasting and related to associative processes, as LTP was not occluded in unpaired animals. Notably, in conditioned animals the LTP-inducing protocol produced LTD in some cells instead of LTP. Conversely, synaptic depression induced by conjunctive stimulation of parallel fibers and climbing fibres was impaired in tissue taken immediately following aversive stimulation in both paired and unpaired subjects. This effect was not, however, long-lasting as the incidence and extent of LTD returned to normal levels 24 h after behavioural testing. These findings suggest that LTP takes part in the mechanisms underlying aversive associative memories in the cerebellum.



cerebellum, long term potentiation, parallel fibre, Purkinje cell, whole cell patch clamp recording, fear conditioning


Zhu, L. et al. (2007) The effects of fear conditioning on cerebellar LTP and LTD. The European journal of neuroscience, 26 (1), pp. 219-227


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)