Dynamic translation of surface coarseness into whisker vibrations Academic Article uri icon


  • Rodents in their natural environment use their whiskers to distinguish between surfaces having subtly different textures and shapes. They do so by actively sweeping their whiskers across surfaces in a rhythmic motion. To determine how textures are transformed into vibration signals in whiskers and how these vibrations are expressed in neuronal discharges, we induced active whisking in anesthetized rats, monitored the movement of whiskers across surfaces, and concurrently recorded from trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons. We show that tactile information is transmitted through high-frequency micromotions superimposed on whisking macro motions. Consistent with this, we find that in most TG neurons, spike activity, and high-frequency micromotions are closely correlated. To determine whether these vibration signals can support texture discrimination, we examined their dependence on surface roughness and found that both vibration signals carry information about surface coarseness. Despite a large variability in t...

publication date

  • January 1, 2008