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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 initial goals can be broken into two main lines of research: dissecting the inputs and outputs of the cerebellar nuclei. While it is well established that the nuclei receive massive input from Purkinje neurons, which are GABAergic, and mossy and climbing fibers, which are glutamatergic, fine-grained quantitative anatomy addressing the numbers and locations of diverse afferents to single nuclear neurons is lacking. We utilize fluorescent pathway tracing (traditional and transsynaptic) to identify the numbers and locations inputs common to small groups of nuclear neurons within the nuclei. The processing of nuclear output is even less well understood. Our goals include determining how the output of the cerebellar nuclei is integrated by long-range targets and within the nuclear microcircuit. By understanding the synaptic properties of the cerebellar nuclei onto their target neurons, we hope to be able to better interpret spiketrains recorded in the cerebellar nuclei in vivo, an integral goal in reading the neural code. With this information, we will be better equipped to resolve the input-output transformation performed by the nuclei and the cerebellum as a whole. Ultimately this information will provide principles of neural control of movement for use in robotics and aid in treatments of cerebellar disease and malfunction.


Sawako Fukushima, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Coming Soon

Christy Beitzel

Graduate Student

​Ted Doykos

Graduate Student

Coming Soon

Matt Becker

MSTP Student




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