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Activation and measurement of free whisking in the lightly anesthetized rodent.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nat Protoc, Volume 9, Issue 8, p.1792-802 (2014)


<p>The rodent vibrissa system is a widely used experimental model of active sensation and motor control. Vibrissa-based touch in rodents involves stereotypic, rhythmic sweeping of the vibrissae as the animal explores its environment. Although pharmacologically induced rhythmic movements have long been used to understand the neural circuitry that underlies a variety of rhythmic behaviors, including locomotion, digestion and ingestion, these techniques have not been available for active sensory movements such as whisking. However, recent work that delineated the location of the central pattern generator for whisking has enabled pharmacological control over this behavior. Here we specify a protocol for the pharmacological induction of rhythmic vibrissa movements that mimic exploratory whisking. The rhythmic vibrissa movements are induced by local injection of a glutamatergic agonist, kainic acid. This protocol produces coordinated rhythmic vibrissa movements that are sustained for several hours in the anesthetized mouse or rat and thus provides unprecedented experimental control in studies related to vibrissa-based neuronal circuitry.</p>

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