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C. Léna / D. Popa


Join our team to study the coupling of the cerebellum with the forebrain circuits!

(contact us; clement.lena or daniela.popa at


Neurophysiology of Brain Circuits

The cerebellum contains more than half of the neurons in the brain and it is one of the largest cerebral structures. The cerebellum has been compared to an adaptive filter, able to finely tune the actions of the body to the environment. The operations performed in its circuit have been analyzed for elementary reflexes (eyeblink conditioning, vestibulo-ocular reflex, saccade adaptation, etc…). Still, the largest part of the cerebellum is engaged in a dialog with the major anterior brain structures (cortex, basal ganglia, limbic system), which function and organization are not well understood. Moreover, clinical evidence indicates that this dialog is disrupted in many neurological diseases and that the cerebellum may be a target for corrective treatments. The center of our interest therefore focuses on the function of the cerebellum in these wide brain circuits.
Our goal is to understand the nature and the function of the reciprocal communication between the cerebellum and the forebrain. For this purpose, we use a multi-scale approach combining the analysis of the cellular physiology and of the network activity in the circuits linking the cerebellum and the cortex in normal and pathological conditions. We combine a variety of techniques including opto- and pharmaco-genetics, in vivo electrophysiology in anesthetized and in behaving animals, anatomical tracing. We also make use of advanced signal processing and theoretical approaches.

Frontera JL, Sala RW, Georgescu IA, Baba Aissa H, d’Ameilda MN, Popa D*, Léna C*. The cerebellum regulates fear extinction through thalamo-prefrontal cortex interactions in male mice Nat. Commun. 2023 (in press)

Coutant B, Frontera JL, Perrin E, Combes A, Tarpin T, Menardy F, Mailhes-Hamon C, Perez S, Degos B, Venance L, Léna C, Popa D. Cerebellar stimulation prevents Levodopa-induced dyskinesia in mice and normalizes activity in a motor network. Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 9;13(1):3211. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-30844-0.

Baba Aïssa H*, Sala RW*, Georgescu Margarint EL, Frontera JL, Varani AP, Menardy F, Pelosi A, Hervé D, Léna C*, Popa D*. Functional abnormalities in the cerebello-thalamic pathways in a mouse model of DYT25 dystonia. Elife. 2022 Jun 14;11:e79135. doi: 10.7554/eLife.79135.

Frontera JL, Léna C. (2021) When the cerebellum holds the starting gun. Neuron. 2021109(14):2207-2209. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.06.027.

Fayat R, Delgado Betancourt V, Goyallon T, Petremann M, Liaudet P, Descossy V, Reveret L, Dugué GP. (2021) Inertial Measurement of Head Tilt in Rodents: Principles and Applications to Vestibular Research. Sensors (Basel). 21(18):6318. doi: 10.3390/s21186318.

Frontera J, Baba Aïssa H, Sala R, Mailhes C, Georgescu I, Léna C, Popa D. (2020) Bidirectional control of fear memories by the cerebellum through the ventrolateral periaqueductal grey- Nature Communications 11(1):5207.

Varani AP, Sala RW, Mailhes-Hamon C, Frontera JL, Léna C*, Popa D*
Dual contributions of cerebellar-thalamic networks to learning and offline consolidation of a complex motor task- preprint BioRxiv 2020 doi:

Menardy F*, Varani AP*, Combes A*, Léna C, Popa D. (2019) Functional Alteration of Cerebello-Cerebral Coupling in an Experimental Mouse Model of Parkinson’s Disease. Cereb Cortex. 29(4):1752-1766.

Andrea T, Menardy F, Diana MA, Lokmane L, Keita M, Coulpier F, Lemoine S, Mailhes C, Mathieu B, Merchan-Sala P, Campbell K, Gyory I, Grosschedl R, Popa D, and Garel S. (2018) Active Intermixing of Indirect and Direct Neurons Builds the Striatal Mosaic. Nat. Commun. 9(1) 4725:1:13

Pelosi A, Menardy F, Popa D, Girault JA, Denis H (2017) Heterozygous Gnal Mice Are a Novel Animal Model with Which to Study Dystonia Pathophysiology. J Neurosci. 37(26):6253-6267.

Dugué GP, Tihy M, Gourévitch B, Léna C. (2017) Cerebellar re-encoding of self-generated head movements. Elife. 6. pii: e26179.

Pasquet MO, Tihy M, Gourgeon A, Pompili MN, Godsil BP, Léna C and Dugué GP. (2016) Wireless inertial measurement of head kinematics in freely-moving rats. Sci Rep. Oct 21;6:35689.

Blot A, de Solages C, Ostojic S, Szapiro G, Hakim V, Léna C. (2016) Time-invariant feed-forward inhibition of Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex in vivo. J Physiol. 594(10):2729-49.

Proville RD, Spolidoro M, Guyon N, Dugué GP, Selimi F, Isope P, Popa D*, Léna C*. (2014) Cerebellum involvement in cortical sensorimotor circuits for the control of voluntary movements. Nat Neurosci. 17(9): 1233-9.

Chaumont J, Guyon N, Valera A, Dugue PG, Popa D, Marcaggi P, Gautheron V, Reibel-Foisset S, Dieudonne S, Stephan A, Barrot M, Cassel JC, Dupont JL, Doussau F, Poulain B, Selimi F*, Léna C*, Isope P*. (2013) Clusters of Cerebellar Purkinje cells control their afferent climbing fiber discharge. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110(40): 16223-8.

Popa D, Spolidoro M, Proville RD, Guyon N, Belliveau L, Léna C. (2013) Functional role of the cerebellum in gamma-band synchronization of the sensory and motor cortices. J Neurosci 33(15): 6552-6.

Gao HY, de Solages C, Lena C. (2012)Tetrode recordings in the cerebellar cortex. J Physiol Paris. 106(3-4): 128-36.

Duvarci S*, Popa D*, Paré D. (2011), Central amygdala activity during fear conditioning, Journal of Neuroscience 31(1): 289-94.

Popa D, Duvarci S, Popescu AT, Léna C, Paré D. (2010) Coherent amygdalocortical theta promotes fear memory consolidation during paradoxical sleep. PNAS

Tracing in the pontine nucleus
Tracing in the pontine nucleus
Cerebello-cortical loop in the mouse
Cerebello-cortical loop in the mouse
Inertial control of firing in the vestibulo-cerebellum
Inertial control of firing in the vestibulo-cerebellum
A cerebello-thalamic neuron (red) surrounded by Purkinje cell terminals (...)
A cerebello-thalamic neuron (red) surrounded by Purkinje cell terminals (green)