Matsui, H., Namikawa, K., Babaryka, A., Köster, R.W. (2014) Functional regionalization of the teleost cerebellum analyzed in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 111(32):11846-51.
There has been accumulating evidence for a regionalized organization of the cerebellum, which was mostly deduced from anatomical mapping of axonal projections of cerebellar afferents. A likewise regionalization of the cerebellar output has been suggested from lesion studies and dye-tracer experiments, but its physiological targets as well as the functional relevance of such an output regionalization are less clear. Ideally, such functional regionalization should be proven noninvasively in vivo. We here provide evidence for such a regionalization of the output from the cerebellar cortex by genetically encoded transneuronal mapping of efferent circuits of zebrafish Purkinje neurons. These identified circuits correspond to distinct regionalized Purkinje cell activity patterns in freely behaving zebrafish larvae during the performance of cerebellar-dependent behaviors. Furthermore, optogenetic interrogation of selected Purkinje cell regions during animal behavior confirms the functional regionalization of Purkinje cell efferents and reveals their contribution to behavior control as well as their function in controlling lateralized behavioral output. Our findings reveal how brain compartments serve to fulfill a multitude of functions by dedicating specialized efferent circuits to distinct behavioral tasks.