Synthesis of multiwhisker-receptive fields in subcortical stations of the vibrissa system.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Neurophysiol, Volume 91, Issue 4, p.1510-5 (2004)


Animals, Biotin, Brain Mapping, Brain Stem, Cell Count, Dextrans, Electrolysis, Electrophysiology, Evoked Potentials, Iontophoresis, Male, Neural Pathways, Physical Stimulation, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Trigeminal Nucleus, Spinal, Ventral Thalamic Nuclei, Vibrissae


<p>This study addresses the origins of multiwhisker-receptive fields of neurons in the thalamic ventral posterior medial (VPM) nucleus of the rat. We sought to determine whether multiwhisker-receptive field synthesis occurs in VPM through convergent projections from the principalis (PrV) and interpolaris (SpVi) nuclei, or in PrV by intersubnuclear projections from the spinal trigeminal complex. We tested these hypotheses by recording whisker-evoked responses in PrV and VPM before and after electrolytic lesion of the SpVi in lightly anesthetized rats. Before the lesion PrV cells responded, on average, to 3.2 +/- 1.2 whiskers but responsiveness was reduced to 1.07 +/- 0.31 whisker after the lesion. A similar reduction of receptive field size was observed in VPM, where neurons responded, on average, to 2.94 +/- 0.95 whiskers before the lesion and to 1.05 +/- 0.22 whisker after the lesion. Thus one can conclude that intersubnuclear projections mediate surround whisker-receptive fields in PrV, and therefore in VPM. However, it has previously been shown that parasagittal brain stem transection, which severed ascending projections from SpVi, but left intersubnuclear connections intact, rendered VPM cells monowhisker responsive. We wondered whether midline brain stem lesion modified receptive field properties in SpVi. In normal rats SpVi cells responded, on average, to 7.52 +/- 4.25 whiskers, but responsiveness was dramatically reduced to 1.47 +/- 1.07 whisker after the lesion. Together these results indicate that the synthesis of surround receptive fields in subcortical stations relies almost exclusively on intersubnuclear projections from the spinal trigeminal complex to the PrV.</p>

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