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Cerebellar Purkinje cell activity modulates aggressive behavior

  1. Skyler L Jackman
  2. Christopher H Chen
  3. Heather L Offermann
  4. Iain R Drew
  5. Bailey M Harrison
  6. Anna M Bowman
  7. Katelyn M Flick
  8. Isabella Flaquer
  9. Wade G Regehr  Is a corresponding author
  1. Harvard Medical School, United States
  2. Oregon Health and Science University, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e53229 doi: 10.7554/eLife.53229

Abstract

Although the cerebellum is traditionally associated with balance and motor function, it also plays wider roles in affective and cognitive behaviors. Evidence suggests that the cerebellar vermis may regulate aggressive behavior, though the cerebellar circuits and patterns of activity that influence aggression remain unclear. We used optogenetic methods to bidirectionally modulate the activity of spatially-delineated cerebellar Purkinje cells to evaluate the impact on aggression in mice. Increasing Purkinje cell activity in the vermis significantly reduced the frequency of attacks in a resident-intruder assay. Reduced aggression was not a consequence of impaired motor function, because optogenetic stimulation did not alter motor performance. In complementary experiments, optogenetic inhibition of Purkinje cells in the vermis increased the frequency of attacks. These results suggest Purkinje cell activity in the cerebellar vermis regulates aggression, and further support the importance of the cerebellum in driving affective behaviors that could contribute to neurological disorders.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Skyler L Jackman

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Christopher H Chen

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Heather L Offermann

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Iain R Drew

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Bailey M Harrison

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Anna M Bowman

    Vollum Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Katelyn M Flick

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Isabella Flaquer

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Wade G Regehr

    Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    For correspondence
    wade_regehr@hms.harvard.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3485-8094

Funding

NIH Office of the Director (R35NS097284)

  • Wade G Regehr

The Khodadah Research Fund

  • Wade G Regehr

NIH Office of the Director (F32NS101889)

  • Christopher H Chen

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: All experiments were conducted in accordance with federal guidelines and protocols (#1493) approved by the Harvard Medical Area Standing Committee on Animals.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Vatsala Thirumalai, National Centre for Biological Sciences, India

Publication history

  1. Received: October 31, 2019
  2. Accepted: April 20, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: April 28, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: May 6, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Jackman et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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