How and Why the Cerebellum Recodes Input Signals: An Alternative to Machine Learning

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Mossy fiber input to the cerebellum is received by granule cells where it is thought to be recoded into internal signals received by Purkinje cells, which alone carry the output of the cerebellar cortex. In any neural network, variables are contained in groups of signals as well as signals themselves-which cells are active and how many, for example, and statistical variables coded in rates, such as the mean and range, and which rates are strongly represented, in a defined population. We argue that the primary function of recoding is to confine translation to an effect of some variables and not others-both where input is recoded into internal signals and the translation downstream of internal signals into an effect on Purkinje cells. The cull of variables is harsh. Internal signaling is group coded. This allows coding to exploit statistics for a reliable and precise effect despite needing to work with high-dimensional input which is a highly unpredictably variable. An important effect is to normalize eclectic input signals, so that the basic, repeating cerebellar circuit, preserved across taxa, does not need to specialize (within regional variations). With this model, there is no need to slavishly conserve or compute data coded in single signals. If we are correct, a learning algorithm-for years, a mainstay of cerebellar modeling-would be redundant.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1073858420986795
JournalThe Neuroscientist
Early online date9 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2021


  • cerebellum, coding, recoding, granular layer, mossy fiber, granule cell, Golgi cell, parallel fiber, Purkinje cell, theory