Granule cell axons, via their parallel fibers, form synapses with Purkinje cells across large areas of the cerebellar cortex. Evidence for uniform transmission along parallel fibers to Purkinje cells is controversial, however, leading to speculation that the ascending axonal segment plays a dominant role in cerebellar processing. We have compared the relative susceptibilities of ascending axon and parallel fiber synaptic inputs to several forms of synaptic plasticity. We demonstrate that ascending axon synapses have a limited capability to undergo forms of long-term depression and potentiation compared with parallel fiber synapses. These results demonstrate that these two segments of the same axon play fundamentally different roles in cerebellar signaling, and, as such, the synapses formed between granule cells and Purkinje cells should not be treated as a homogenous population.This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Royal Society
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