Decoupling kinematics and mechanics reveals coding properties of trigeminal ganglion neurons in the rat vibrissal system

Nicholas E. Bush, Christopher L. Schroeder, Jennifer A. Hobbs, Anne E T Yang, Lucie A. Huet, Sara A. Solla, Mitra J Z Hartmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Tactile information available to the rat vibrissal system begins as external forces that cause whisker deformations, which in turn excite mechanoreceptors in the follicle. Despite the fundamental mechanical origin of tactile information, primary sensory neurons in the trigeminal ganglion (Vg) have often been described as encoding the kinematics (geometry) of object contact. Here we aimed to determine the extent to which Vg neurons encode the kinematics vs. mechanics of contact. We used models of whisker bending to quantify mechanical signals (forces and moments) at the whisker base while simultaneously monitoring whisker kinematics and recording single Vg units in both anesthetized rats and awake, body restrained rats. We employed a novel manual stimulation technique to deflect whiskers in a way that decouples kinematics from mechanics, and used Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) to show that Vg neurons more directly encode mechanical signals when the whisker is deflected in this decoupled stimulus space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13969
JournaleLife
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 27 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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