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      Anatomical Pathways Involved in Generating and Sensing Rhythmic Whisker Movements


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          The rodent whisker system is widely used as a model system for investigating sensorimotor integration, neural mechanisms of complex cognitive tasks, neural development, and robotics. The whisker pathways to the barrel cortex have received considerable attention. However, many subcortical structures are paramount to the whisker system. They contribute to important processes, like filtering out salient features, integration with other senses, and adaptation of the whisker system to the general behavioral state of the animal. We present here an overview of the brain regions and their connections involved in the whisker system. We do not only describe the anatomy and functional roles of the cerebral cortex, but also those of subcortical structures like the striatum, superior colliculus, cerebellum, pontomedullary reticular formation, zona incerta, and anterior pretectal nucleus as well as those of level setting systems like the cholinergic, histaminergic, serotonergic, and noradrenergic pathways. We conclude by discussing how these brain regions may affect each other and how they together may control the precise timing of whisker movements and coordinate whisker perception.

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          The excitatory neuronal network of the C2 barrel column in mouse primary somatosensory cortex.

          Local microcircuits within neocortical columns form key determinants of sensory processing. Here, we investigate the excitatory synaptic neuronal network of an anatomically defined cortical column, the C2 barrel column of mouse primary somatosensory cortex. This cortical column is known to process tactile information related to the C2 whisker. Through multiple simultaneous whole-cell recordings, we quantify connectivity maps between individual excitatory neurons located across all cortical layers of the C2 barrel column. Synaptic connectivity depended strongly upon somatic laminar location of both presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons, providing definitive evidence for layer-specific signaling pathways. The strongest excitatory influence upon the cortical column was provided by presynaptic layer 4 neurons. In all layers we found rare large-amplitude synaptic connections, which are likely to contribute strongly to reliable information processing. Our data set provides the first functional description of the excitatory synaptic wiring diagram of a physiologically relevant and anatomically well-defined cortical column at single-cell resolution.
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            Putting a spin on the dorsal-ventral divide of the striatum.

            Since its conception three decades ago, the idea that the striatum consists of a dorsal sensorimotor part and a ventral portion processing limbic information has sparked a quest for functional correlates and anatomical characteristics of the striatal divisions. But this classic dorsal-ventral distinction might not offer the best view of striatal function. Anatomy and neurophysiology show that the two striatal areas have the same basic structure and that sharp boundaries are absent. Behaviorally, a distinction between dorsolateral and ventromedial seems most valid, in accordance with a mediolateral functional zonation imposed on the striatum by its excitatory cortical, thalamic and amygdaloid inputs. Therefore, this review presents a synthesis between the dorsal-ventral distinction and the more mediolateral-oriented functional striatal gradient.
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              Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and nicotinic cholinergic mechanisms of the central nervous system.

              Subtypes of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are constructed from numerous subunit combinations that compose channel-receptor complexes with varied functional and pharmacological characteristics. Structural and functional diversity and the broad presynaptic, postsynaptic, and nonsynaptic locations of nAChRs underlie their mainly modulatory roles throughout the mammalian brain. Presynaptic and preterminal nicotinic receptors enhance neurotransmitter release, postsynaptic nAChRs contribute a small minority of fast excitatory transmission, and nonsynaptic nAChRs modulate many neurotransmitter systems by influencing neuronal excitability. Nicotinic receptors have roles in development and synaptic plasticity, and nicotinic mechanisms participate in learning, memory, and attention. Decline, disruption, or alterations of nicotinic cholinergic mechanisms contribute to dysfunctions such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, autism, dementia with Lewy bodies, Alzheimer's disease, and addiction.

                Author and article information

                Front Integr Neurosci
                Front. Integr. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
                Frontiers Research Foundation
                04 October 2011
                : 5
                [1] 1simpleDepartment of Neuroscience, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Netherlands
                [2] 2simpleNetherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences Amsterdam, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Agnes Gruart, University Pablo de Olavide Seville, Spain

                Reviewed by: Michael Brecht, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany; Josè M. Delgado-García, University Pablo de Olavide Seville, Spain

                *Correspondence: Chris I. De Zeeuw, Department of Neuroscience, Erasmus MC, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, Netherlands. e-mail: c.dezeeuw@ 123456erasmusmc.nl
                Copyright © 2011 Bosman, Houweling, Owens, Tanke, Shevchouk, Rahmati, Teunissen, Ju, Gong, Koekkoek and De Zeeuw.

                This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

                : 08 July 2011
                : 26 August 2011
                Page count
                Figures: 8, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 450, Pages: 28, Words: 29766
                Review Article

                sensorimotor integration,barrel cortex,cerebellum,anatomy,basal ganglia,follicle–sinus complex,vibrissa,rhythmic movements


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