Temporal measurement: discovery of cerebellar neurons that feel rhythm

Research Press Release | October 31, 2013

Press Release
Key Points – Neurons in the cerebellum have been found to increase sensory response to repetitive stimuli.

– Their response was proportional to the time elapsed since the previous stimulus, and their inactivation made it difficult to detect stimulus omission.

– The elucidation of the underlying mechanism of predictive control by the cerebellum may help advance the understanding of pathophysiology of cerebellar disorders and their diagnosis.

Overview Time perception is essential to daily life, but we do not have receptors for the sense of time. Therefore, temporal information must be created as higher-order sensory information within the brain. This study focused on the cerebellum, which is believed to be involved in time perception.

As monkeys attempted to detect a sudden omission of repetitive audiovisual stimuli, neurons in the cerebellar nuclei altered their sensory response in accordance with the interstimulus interval. Furthermore, inactivation of the recording sites revealed that this temporal information was used to predict the timing of the next stimulus. This study elucidated some aspects of the underlying mechanism of predictive control by the cerebellum, and these results may help advance understanding of the pathophysiology of cerebellar disorders and the development of their diagnosis.

This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan (MEXT) (“Prediction and Decision-Making” and “The Science of Mental Time”, a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research B), a grant from PRESTO (Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology) (Biosystems), and other grants for scientific research from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and elsewhere. Experimental animals were supplied by the MEXT National BioResource Project.


Masaki Tanaka, Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, Hokkaido University

TEL: +81-11-706-5040

FAX: +81-11-706-5041

e-mail: masaki@med.hokudai.ac.jp

Systems Neuroscience Laboratory



Publications The Journal of Neuroscience (2013.9.25)