Eric Lang

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience & Physiology

435 east 30th St
Science Building 1212
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-263-6638
Curriculum Vitae

Research Summary

Role of cerebellum in predictive motor control.

We are trying to understand the role of the cerebellum in motor coordination.  We are approaching this issue at the cellular, systems, and behavioral levels by employing a variety of techniques, including electrophysiological, anatomical, and optogenetic ones, in both anesthetized and awake behaving preparations. 

The major issue we are addressing at the cellular and systems levels is the synaptic control of cerebellar nuclear activity.  The cerebellar nuclei are the major output station of the cerebellum, and the majority of their input arises from the Purkinje cells of the overlying cerebellar cortex.  Thus, by understanding the transform of activity from Purkinje cell to cerebellar nuclei we hope to elucidate how outgoing motor commands from the cerebellum are formed.  We use large scale microelectrode arrays to record simultaneously from Purkinje and cerebellar nuclear cells in order to identify synaptically-connected cell pairs and determine the correlation between their firing patterns.  Optogenetic techniques are used to actively manipulate Purkinje cell activity to provide causal evidence of the relationships revealed by the multielectrode recordings.

To relate our physiological findings to behavior we are developing a visually-guided movement paradigm in which rats are trained to reach to targets.  The cerebellum is thought to be critical for properly timing motor commands and for movements requiring predictive computations (e.g., intercepting a moving target).  Thus, we use EMG recording and high speed videography to quantitatively characterize the reaching movements and then determine the effect of optogenetically manipulating cerebellar activity on the movement characteristics.

Selected Publications:

  • Blenkinsop TA and Lang EJ (2011) Synaptic action of the olivocerebellar system on cerebellar nuclear spike activity. J. Neurosci. 31: 14708-14720.

  • Lang EJ and Blenkinsop TA (2011) Control of cerebellar nuclear cells: a direct role for complex spikes? Cerebellum. PMCID: PMC3158812

  • Katori Y, Lang EJ, Kawato, M, and Aihara K (2010) Quantitative modeling of the spatiotemporal dynamics of inferior olive neurons with simple conductance-based model. International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos. 20: 583-603.

  • Marshall SP and Lang EJ (2009) Local changes in the excitability of the cerebellar cortex produce spatially restricted changes in complex spike synchrony. J. Neurosci. 29: 14352-14362.

  • Zagha E, Lang EJ, and Rudy B (2008) Kv3.3 Channels at the Purkinje cell soma are necessary for generation of the classical complex spike waveform. J. Neurosci. 28: 1291-1300.  PMCID: PMC2657222.