A continuum mechanical model of mechanoreceptive afferent responses to indented spatial patterns

J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jun;95(6):3852-64. doi: 10.1152/jn.01240.2005. Epub 2006 Feb 15.


Information about the spatial structure of tactile stimuli is conveyed by slowly adapting type 1 (SA1) and rapidly adapting (RA) afferents innervating the skin. Here, we investigate how the spatial properties of the stimulus shape the afferent response. To that end, we present an analytical framework to characterize SA1 and RA responses to a wide variety of spatial patterns indented into the skin. This framework comprises a model of the tissue deformation produced by any three-dimensional indented spatial pattern, along with an expression that converts the deformation at the receptor site into a neural response. We evaluated 15 candidate variables for the relevant receptor deformation and found that physical quantities closely related to local membrane stretch were most predictive of the observed afferent responses. The main outcome of this study is an accurate working model of SA1 and RA afferent responses to indented spatial patterns.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Touch / physiology*