Granule cells at the input layer of the cerebellum comprise over half the neurons in the human brain and are thought to be critical for learning. However, little is known about granule neuron signaling at the population scale during behavior. We used calcium imaging in awake zebrafish during optokinetic behavior to record transgenically identified granule neurons throughout a cerebellar population. A significant fraction of the population was responsive at any given time. In contrast to core precerebellar populations, granule neuron responses were relatively heterogeneous, with variation in the degree of rectification and the balance of positive versus negative changes in activity. Functional correlations were strongest for nearby cells, with weak spatial gradients in the degree of rectification and the average sign of response. These data open a new window upon cerebellar function and suggest granule layer signals represent elementary building blocks under-represented in core sensorimotor pathways, thereby enabling the construction of novel patterns of activity for learning.
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