The cerebellum in action: A simulation and robotics study

Constanze Hofstötter, Matti Mintz, Paul F.M.J. Verschure*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The control or prediction of the precise timing of events are central aspects of the many tasks assigned to the cerebellum. Despite much detailed knowledge of its physiology and anatomy, it remains unclear how the cerebellar circuitry can achieve such an adaptive timing function. We present a computational model pursuing this question for one extensively studied type of cerebellar-mediated learning: the classical conditioning of discrete motor responses. This model combines multiple current assumptions on the function of the cerebellar circuitry and was used to investigate whether plasticity in the cerebellar cortex alone can mediate adaptive conditioned response timing. In particular, we studied the effect of changes in the strength of the synapses formed between parallel fibres and Purkinje cells under the control of a negative feedback loop formed between inferior olive, cerebellar cortex and cerebellar deep nuclei. The learning performance of the model was evaluated at the circuit level in simulated conditioning experiments as well as at the behavioural level using a mobile robot. We demonstrate that the model supports adaptively timed responses under real-world conditions. Thus, in contrast to many other models that have focused on cerebellar-mediated conditioning, we investigated whether and how the suggested underlying mechanisms could give rise to behavioural phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1361-1376
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2002


  • Cerebellar cortex
  • Classical conditioning
  • Computational model
  • Learning
  • Real-time behaviour
  • Response timing
  • Robot


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