Cerebellar Shaping of Motor Cortical Firing Is Correlated with Timing of Motor Actions

Abdulraheem Nashef, Oren Cohen, Zvi Israel, Ran Harel, Yifat Prut*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In higher mammals, motor timing is considered to be dictated by cerebellar control of motor cortical activity, relayed through the cerebellar-thalamo-cortical (CTC) system. Nonetheless, the way cerebellar information is integrated with motor cortical commands and affects their temporal properties remains unclear. To address this issue, we activated the CTC system in primates and found that it efficiently recruits motor cortical cells; however, the cortical response was dominated by prolonged inhibition that imposed a directional activation across the motor cortex. During task performance, cortical cells that integrated CTC information fired synchronous bursts at movement onset. These cells expressed a stronger correlation with reaction time than non-CTC cells. Thus, the excitation-inhibition interplay triggered by the CTC system facilitates transient recruitment of a cortical subnetwork at movement onset. The CTC system may shape neural firing to produce the required profile to initiate movements and thus plays a pivotal role in timing motor actions. Nashef et al. identified a motor cortical subnetwork recruited by cerebellar volley that was transiently synchronized at movement onset. Cerebellar control of cortical firing was dominated by inhibition that shaped task-related firing of neurons and may dictate motor timing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275-1285
Number of pages11
JournalCell Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Baruch Foundation
German-Israeli Science FoundationGIF-I-1224-396.13/2012
Israel Science FoundationISF-1787/13


    • cerebellar-thalamo-cortical
    • motor control
    • noise correlation
    • primates
    • reaction time
    • synchrony


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