Spike-timing in primary sensory neurons: a model of somatosensory transduction in the rat

Biol Cybern. 2008 Mar;98(3):185-94. doi: 10.1007/s00422-007-0208-7. Epub 2008 Jan 5.


In previous work, we constructed a simple electro-mechanical model of transduction in the rat mystacial follicle that was able to replicate primary afferent response profiles to a variety of whisker deflection stimuli. Here, we update that model to fit newly available spike-timing response data, and demonstrate that the new model produces appropriate responses to richer stimuli, including pseudo white noise and natural textures, at a spike-timing level of detail. Additionally, we demonstrate reliable distributed encoding of multi-component oscillatory signals. No modifications were necessary to the mechanical model of the physical components of the follicle-sinus complex, supporting its generality. We conclude that this model, and its continued development, will aid the understanding both of somatosensory systems in general, and of physiological results from higher (e.g. thalamocortical) systems by accurately characterising the signals on which they operate.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Mechanoreceptors
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Time Factors
  • Vibrissae / innervation