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A cerebellar internal model calibrates a feedback controller involved in sensorimotor control.

Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 18;12(1):6694. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26988-0. PMID: 34795244; PMCID: PMC8602262.

Authors/Editors: Markov DA, Petrucco L, Kist AM, Portugues R.
Publication Date: 2021


Animals must adapt their behavior to survive in a changing environment. Behavioral adaptations can be evoked by two mechanisms: feedback control and internal-model-based control. Feedback controllers can maintain the sensory state of the animal at a desired level under different environmental conditions. In contrast, internal models learn the relationship between the motor output and its sensory consequences and can be used to recalibrate behaviors. Here, we present multiple unpredictable perturbations in visual feedback to larval zebrafish performing the optomotor response and show that they react to these perturbations through a feedback control mechanism. In contrast, if a perturbation is long-lasting, fish adapt their behavior by updating a cerebellum-dependent internal model. We use modelling and functional imaging to show that the neuronal requirements for these mechanisms are met in the larval zebrafish brain. Our results illustrate the role of the cerebellum in encoding internal models and how these can calibrate neuronal circuits involved in reactive behaviors depending on the interactions between animal and environment.

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