Vestibular paradigms are widely used for investigating mechanisms underlying cerebellar motor learning. These include adaptation of the vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) after visual-vestibular mismatch training and vestibular compensation after unilateral damage to the vestibular apparatus. To date, various studies have shown that VOR adaptation may be supported by long-term depression (LTD) at the parallel fiber to Purkinje cell synapse. Yet it is unknown to what extent vestibular compensation may depend on this cellular process. Here we investigated adaptive gain changes in the VOR and optokinetic reflex during vestibular compensation in transgenic mice in which LTD is specifically blocked in Purkinje cells via expression of a peptide inhibitor of protein kinase C (L7-PKCi mutants). The results demonstrate that neither the strength nor the time course of vestibular compensation are affected by the absence of LTD. In contrast, analysis of vestibular compensation in spontaneous mutants that lack a functional olivocerebellar circuit (lurchers) shows that this form of motor learning is severely impaired. We conclude that oculomotor plasticity during vestibular compensation depends critically on intact cerebellar circuitry but not on the occurrence of cerebellar LTD.
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