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      A somatotopic map of vibrissa motion direction within a barrel column.

      Nature neuroscience
      Animals, Brain Mapping, Electric Stimulation, Male, Models, Anatomic, Motion Perception, physiology, Neurons, cytology, metabolism, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Somatosensory Cortex, anatomy & histology, Vibrissae

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          Abstract

          Most mammals possess high-resolution visual perception, with primary visual cortices containing fine-scale, inter-related feature representations (for example, orientation and ocular dominance). Rats lack precise vision, but their vibrissa sensory system provides a precise tactile modality, including vibrissa-related 'barrel' columns in primary somatosensory cortex. Here, we examined the subcolumnar organization of direction preference and somatotopy using a new omni-directional, multi-vibrissa stimulator. We discovered a direction map that was systematically linked to somatotopy, such that neurons were tuned for motion toward their preferred surround vibrissa. This sub-barrel column direction map demonstrated an emergent refinement from layer IV to layer II/III. These data suggest that joint processing of multiple sensory features is a common property of high-resolution sensory systems.

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