Spatiotemporal characteristics of neuronal sensory integration in the barrel cortex of the rat. Article - 2005

Valerie Ego-Stengel, Tadeu Mello E. Souza, Vincent Jacob, Daniel Shulz

Valerie Ego-Stengel, Tadeu Mello E. Souza, Vincent Jacob, Daniel Shulz, « Spatiotemporal characteristics of neuronal sensory integration in the barrel cortex of the rat.  », Journal of Neurophysiology, 2005, p. 1450. ISSN 0022-3077

Abstract

In primary sensory cortices, neuronal responses to a stimulus presented as part of a rapid sequence often differ from responses to an isolated stimulus. It has been reported that sequential stimulation of two whiskers produces facilitatory modulations of barrel cortex neuronal responses. These results are at odds with the well-known suppressive interaction that has been usually described. Herein, we have examined the dependency of response modulation on the spatiotemporal pattern of stimulation by varying the spatial arrangement of the deflected vibrissae, the temporal frequency of stimulation, and the time interval between whisker deflections. Extracellular recordings were made from primary somatosensory cortex of anesthetized rats. Two contralateral whiskers were stimulated at 0.5 and 8 Hz at intervals ranging from 0 to +/-30 ms. Response interactions were assessed during stimulation of the principal and adjacent whiskers, first from the same row and second from the same arc. When tested at 0.5 Hz, 59% of single units showed a statistically significant suppressive interaction, whereas response facilitation was found in only 6% of cells. In contrast, at 8 Hz, a significant supralinear summation was observed in 19% of the cells, particularly for stimulations along an arc rather than along a row. Multi-unit recordings showed similar results. These observations indicate that most of the interactions in the barrel cortex during two-whisker stimulation are suppressive. However, facilitation can be revealed when stimuli are applied at a physiological frequency and could be the basis for internal representations of the spatiotemporal pattern of the stimulus.

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