The olivo-cerebellar system and its relationship to survival circuits

Thomas C. Watson, Stella Koutsikou, Nadia L. Cerminara, Charlotte R. Flavell, Jonathan J. Crook, Bridget M. Lumb, Richard Apps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How does the cerebellum, the brain’s largest sensorimotor structure, contribute to complex behaviors essential to survival? While we know much about the role of limbic and closely associated brainstem structures in relation to a variety of emotional, sensory, or motivational stimuli, we know very little about how these circuits interact with the cerebellum to generate appropriate patterns of behavioral response. Here we focus on evidence suggesting that the olivo-cerebellar system may link to survival networks via interactions with the midbrain periaqueductal gray, a structure with a well known role in expression of survival responses. As a result of this interaction we argue that, in addition to important roles in motor control, the inferior olive, and related olivo-cortico-nuclear circuits, should be considered part of a larger network of brain structures involved in coordinating survival behavior through the selective relaying of “teaching signals” arising from higher centers associated with emotional behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
JournalFrontiers in Neural Circuits
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Watson, Koutsikou, Cerminara, Flavell, Crook, Lumb and Apps. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.


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