Development of the cerebellum and cerebellar neural circuits

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Abstract

The cerebellum, a structure derived from the dorsal part of the most anterior hindbrain, is important for integrating sensory perception and motor control. While the structure and development of the cerebellum have been analyzed most extensively in mammals, recent studies have shown that the anatomy and development of the cerebellum is conserved between mammals and bony fish (teleost) species, including zebrafish. In the mammalian and teleost cerebellum, Purkinje and granule cells serve, respectively, as the major GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons. Purkinje cells originate in the ventricular zone (VZ), and receive inputs from climbing fibers. Granule cells originate in the upper rhombic lip (URL) and receive inputs from mossy fibers. Thus, the teleost cerebellum shares many features with the cerebellum of other vertebrates, and is a good model system for studying cerebellar function and development. The teleost cerebellum also has features that are specific to teleosts or have not been elucidated in mammals, including eurydendroid cells and adult neurogenesis. Furthermore, the neural circuitry in part of the optic tectum and the dorsal hindbrain closely resembles the circuitry of the teleost cerebellum; hence, these are called cerebellum-like structures. Here we describe the anatomy and development of cerebellar neurons and their circuitry, and discuss the possible roles of the cerebellum and cerebellum-like structures in behavior and higher cognitive functions. We also consider the potential use of genetics and novel techniques for studying the cerebellum in zebrafish.

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