SA1 and RA afferent responses to static and vibrating gratings

J Neurophysiol. 2006 Mar;95(3):1771-82. doi: 10.1152/jn.00877.2005. Epub 2005 Oct 19.


SA1 and RA afferent fibers differ both in their ability to convey information about the fine spatial structure of tactile stimuli and in their frequency sensitivity profiles. In the present study, we investigated the extent to which the spatial resolution of the signal conveyed by SA1 and RA fibers depends on the temporal properties of the stimulus. To that end, we recorded the responses evoked in SA1 and RA fibers of macaques by static and vibrating gratings that varied in spatial period, vibratory frequency, and amplitude. Gratings were oriented either parallel to the long axis of the finger (vertical) or perpendicular to it (horizontal). We examined the degree to which afferent responses were dependent on the spatial period, vibratory frequency, amplitude, and orientation of the gratings. We found that the spatial modulation of the afferent responses increased as the spatial period of the gratings increased; the spatial modulation was the same for static and vibrating gratings, despite large differences in evoked spike rates; the spatial modulation in SA1 responses was independent of stimulus amplitude over the range of amplitudes tested, whereas RA modulation decreased slightly as the stimulus amplitude increased; vertical gratings evoked stronger and more highly modulated responses than horizontal gratings; the modulation in SA1 responses was higher than that in RA responses at all frequencies and amplitudes. The behavioral consequences of these neurophysiological findings are examined in a companion paper.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Ulnar Nerve / physiology
  • Vibration