A novel stimulator to investigate the tuning of multi-whisker responsive neurons for speed and the direction of global motion: Contact-sensitive moving stimulator for multi-whisker stimulation

Schnaude Dorizan, Kevin J. Kleczka, Admir Resulaj, Trevor Alston, Chris S. Bresee, Mitra J.Z. Hartmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The rodent vibrissal (whisker) systcnsorimotor integration and active tactile sensing. Experiments on the vibrissal system often require highly repeatable stimulation of multiple whiskers and the ability to vary stimulation parameters across a wide range. The stimulator must also be easy to position and adjust. Developing a multi-whisker stimulation system that meets these criteria remains challenging. New method: We describe a novel multi-whisker stimulator to assess neural selectivity for the direction of global motion. The device can generate repeatable, linear sweeps of tactile stimulation across the whisker array in any direction and with a range of speeds. A fiber optic beam break detects the interval of whisker contact as the stimulator passes through the array. Results: We demonstrate the device's function and utility by recording from a small number of multi-whisker-responsive neurons in the trigeminal brainstem. Neurons had higher firing rates in response to faster stimulation speeds; some also exhibited strong direction-of-motion tuning. Comparison with existing methods: The stimulator complements more standard piezo-electric stimulators, which offer precise control but typically stimulate only single whiskers, require whisker trimming, and travel through small angles. It also complements non-contact methods of stimulation such as air-puffs and electromagnetic-induced stimulation. Tradeoffs include stimulation speed and frequency, and the inability to stimulate whiskers individually. Conclusions: The stimulator could be used – in either anesthetized or awake, head-fixed preparations – as an approach to studying global motion selectivity of multi-whisker sensitive neurons at multiple levels of the vibrissal-trigeminal system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109565
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Volume374
DOIs
StatePublished - May 15 2022

Keywords

  • Multi-whisker responses
  • Multivibrissal stimulation
  • Stimulation
  • Tactile
  • Touch
  • Trigeminal brainstem
  • Vibrissa
  • Whisker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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