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Department of Physiology and Biophysics

University of Colorado Department of Physiology and Biophysics

Abigail Person, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department of Physiology and Biophysics
University of Colorado School of Medicine

RC1 North Tower, P18-7119​
Mail Stop 8307
Aurora, CO 80045​
Tel: (303) 724-4514
Fax: (303) 724-4501


  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Bioengineering
  • MSTP
  • BSP

The cerebellum is a major brain structure involved in real-time motor coordination and longer-term motor learning. The cerebellar nuclei form the sole output of the cerebellum, yet they remain among the least studied areas of the structure. My laboratory combines in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological and anatomical techniques to uncover the integrative mechanisms of small neuronal circuits within the cerebellar nuclei and its targets, with the long-term goal of understanding neural mechanisms of motor control.

Our main research program focuses on the role of a pathway from the cerebellar nuclei back to the cerebellar cortex. Corollary discharge (CD), or a copy of efferent motor commands, is integral to numerous models cerebellar motor control. CD is hypothesized to provide a reference signal to update internal models of current motor state and modify reafferent sensory input that is predicted by the motor command, placing it at the center of sensorimotor integration. Our understanding of the specific anatomical and physiological circuitry of CD in the mammalian cerebellum is limited, however, owing to anatomical constraints that complicate studying motor cortex-derived CD signals. Our approach bypasses these obstacles by focusing on a neglected pathway consisting of collaterals from the premotor cerebellar nuclei to the cerebellar granule cell layer. This experimentally accessible “nucleocortical” pathway has all of the hallmarks of a CD pathway in that it consists of motor output neurons that also project to sensory receptive areas. We propose to investigate the organization and function of this pathway in mice as a means to understand the mechanisms and role of corollary discharge in sensory processing in mammalian cerebellum. To test the hypothesis that CD both updates internal models and suppresses sensory reafference, we use anatomical and physiological approaches to examine the structure and function of the nucleocortical pathway forms excitatory synapses onto feedforward excitatory granule neurons and feedforward inhibitory Golgi neurons. We expect that the motor CD pathway from the cerebellar nuclei contacts granule cells and Golgi cells, converges with other sensory cerebellar afferents, and modifies sensory processing by the granule cell layer. These studies will aid in our long term goal of understanding the circuit mechanisms of feedforward motor control in mammals, which is critical for precise movement and hypothesized to be impaired in movement disorders that involve the cerebellum.

Image Coming soon

​​Brenda Houck, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow


​Image Coming Soon Christy Beitzel
Grad Student
​Image Coming Soon Ted Doykos
Grad Student

Houck BD, Person AL (2014) Cerebellar loops: a review of the nucleocortical pathway. Cerebellum 13: 378-85

Person AL, Raman IM (2012) Synchrony and neural coding in cerebellar circuits. Front Neural Circuits 6:97

Person AL, Raman IM (2011) Purkinje neuron synchrony elicits time-locked spiking in the cerebellar nuclei. Nature 481: 502-5

Person AL, Raman IM (2010) Deactivation of L-type calcium current by inhibition controls LTP at excitatory synapses in the cerebellar nuclei. Neuron 66: 550-559

Person AL*, Gale SD*, Farries MA, Perkel DJ. (2008) Organization of songbird basal ganglia, including area X. J Comp Neurol 508: 840:66
*equal contribution

Gale SD*, Person AL*, Perkel DJ. (2008) A novel basal ganglia pathway forms a loop linking a vocal learning circuit with its dopaminergic input. J Comp Neurol 508: 824-39
*equal contribution

Person AL, Perkel DJ (2007) Pallidal neuron activity increases during sensory relay through thalamus in a songbird circuit essential for learning. J Neurosci 27: 8687-98.

Person AL, Perkel DJ (2005) Unitary IPSPs drive precise thalamic spiking in a circuit required for learning. Neuron 46: 129-40.

Honors and Awards:

  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow
  • Esther A and Joseph Klingenstein Fund Award in the Neurosciences
  • Boettcher Investigator: Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Award