Published on Thu Sep 23 2021

A Purkinje cell to parabrachial nucleus pathway enables broad cerebellar influence over the forebrain and emotional valence

Chen, C. H., Newman, L. N., Stark, A. P., Bond, K. E., Zhang, D., Mutume, K., Flaquer, I., Regehr, W. G.

The cerebellum is involved in language, emotional regulation, anxiety, and affect1-4. We found that suppressing the firing of cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) rapidly excites forebrain areas that could contribute to such functions, including the amygdala, basal forebrain,

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Abstract

In addition to its well-known contributions to motor control and motor learning, the cerebellum is involved in language, emotional regulation, anxiety, and affect1-4. We found that suppressing the firing of cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) rapidly excites forebrain areas that could contribute to such functions, including the amygdala, basal forebrain, and septum, but that the classic cerebellar outputs, the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN), do not project to these regions. Here we show that parabrachial nuclei (PBN) neurons that receive direct PC input, project to and influence all of these forebrain regions and many others. Furthermore, the function of this pathway is distinct from the canonical pathway: suppressing PC to PBN activity is aversive, whereas suppressing the PC to DCN pathway is rewarding. Therefore, the PBN pathway allows the cerebellum to influence the entire spectrum of valence, modulate the activity of forebrain regions known to regulate diverse nonmotor behaviors, and may be the substrate for many nonmotor disorders related to cerebellar dysfunction.