Sensory Coding by Cerebellar Mossy Fibres through Inhibition-Driven Phase Resetting and Synchronisation
Temporal coding of spike-times using oscillatory mechanisms allied to spike-time dependent plasticity could represent a powerful mechanism for neuronal communication. However, it is unclear how temporal coding is constructed at the single neuronal level. Here we investigate a novel class of highly regular, metronome-like neurones in the rat brainstem which form a major source of cerebellar afferents. Stimulation of sensory inputs evoked brief periods of inhibition that interrupted the regular firing of these cells leading to phase-shifted spike-time advancements and delays. Alongside phase-shifting, metronome cells also behaved as band-pass filters during rhythmic sensory stimulation, with maximal spike-stimulus synchronisation at frequencies close to the idiosyncratic firing frequency of each neurone. Phase-shifting and band-pass filtering serve to temporally align ensembles of metronome cells, leading to sustained volleys of near-coincident spike-times, thereby transmitting synchronised sensory information to downstream targets in the cerebellar cortex.