‘Zombie neurons’ shed light on how the brain learns

The cerebellum, known as the “little brain,” is crucial for coordinating movement, balance, and learning. A study led by the Champalimaud Foundation reveals the importance of climbing fibers in the cerebellum for associative learning. By manipulating these fibers using optogenetics, researchers found that they are essential for teaching signals that drive learning. Surprisingly, introducing a light-sensitive protein into climbing fibers led to the discovery of “zombie neurons” that were alive but unable to function normally. This finding sheds new light on how the brain learns and may have implications for understanding other forms of cerebellar learning.

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