The Organization of Submodality-Specific Touch Afferent Inputs in the Vibrissa Column

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The rodent tactile vibrissae are innervated by several different types of touch sensory neurons. The central afferents of all touch neurons from one vibrissa collectively project to a columnar structure called a barrelette in the brainstem. Delineating how distinct types of sensors connect to second-order neurons within each barrelette is critical for understanding tactile information coding and processing. Using genetic and viral techniques, we labeled slowly adapting (SA) mechanosensory neurons, rapidly adapting (RA) mechanosensory neurons, afferent synapses, and second-order projection neurons with four different fluorescent markers to examine their connectivity. We discovered that within each vibrissa column, individual sensory neurons project collaterals to multiply distributed locations, inputs from SA and RA afferents are spatially intermixed without any discernible stereotypy or topography, and second-order projection neurons receive convergent SA and RA inputs. Our findings reveal a"one-to-many and many-to-one" connectivity scheme and the circuit architecture for tactile information processing at the first-order synapses




Sakurai, K., Akiyama, M., Cai, B., Scott, A., Han, B. X., Takatoh, J., … Wang, F. (2013). The Organization of Submodality-Specific Touch Afferent Inputs in the Vibrissa Column. Cell Reports, 5(1), 87–98.

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