Density is destiny--on [corrected] the relation between quantity of T-type Ca2+ channels and neuronal electrical behavior.
The neurons in the inferior olive express subthreshold oscillations in their membrane potential. This oscillatory activity is known to drive synchronous activity in the cerebellar cortex and plays a role in motor learning and motor timing. In the past years, it was commonly thought that olivary neurons belonged to a unique population of oscillating units and that oscillation properties were exclusively dependent on network settings and/or synaptic inputs. The origin of olivary oscillations is now known to be a local phenomenon and is generated by a combination of conductances. In the present work, we show the existence of at least two neuronal populations that can be distinguished on the basis of the presence or absence of low-voltage activated Ca(2+) channels. The expression of this channel determines the oscillatory behavior of olivary neurons. Furthermore, the number of cells that express this channel is different between sub nuclei of the inferior olive. These findings clearly indicate the functional variability within and between olivary sub nuclei.