The cerebellum dedicates a majority of the brain's neurons to processing a wide range of sensory, motor, and cognitive signals. Stereotyped circuitry within the cerebellar cortex suggests that similar computations are performed throughout the cerebellum, but little is known about whether diverse precerebellar neurons are specialized for the nature of the information they convey. In vivo recordings indicate that firing responses to sensory or motor stimuli vary dramatically across different precerebellar nuclei, but whether this reflects diverse synaptic inputs or differentially tuned intrinsic excitability has not been determined.Wetargeted whole-cell patch-clamp recordings to neurons in eight precerebellar nuclei which were retrogradely labeled from different regions of the cerebellum in mice. Intrinsic physiology was compared across neurons in the medial vestibular, external cuneate, lateral reticular, prepositus hypoglossi, supragenual, Roller/intercalatus, reticularis tegmenti pontis, and pontine nuclei. Within the firing domain, precerebellar neurons were remarkably similar. Firing faithfully followed temporally modulated inputs, could be sustained at high rates, and was a linear function of input current over a wide range of inputs and firing rates. Pharmacological analyses revealed common expression of Kv3 currents, which were essential for a wide linear firing range, and of SK (small-conductance calcium-activated potassium) currents, which were essential for a wide linear input range. In contrast, membrane properties below spike threshold varied considerably within and across precerebellar nuclei, as evidenced by variability in postinhibitory rebound firing. Our findings indicate that diverse precerebellar neurons perform similar scaling computations on their inputs but may be differentially tuned to synaptic inhibition.
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