Importance of spike timing in touch: an analogy with hearing?

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2016 Oct;40:142-149. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.07.013. Epub 2016 Aug 6.


Touch is often conceived as a spatial sense akin to vision. However, touch also involves the transduction and processing of signals that vary rapidly over time, inviting comparisons with hearing. In both sensory systems, first order afferents produce spiking responses that are temporally precise and the timing of their responses carries stimulus information. The precision and informativeness of spike timing in the two systems invites the possibility that both implement similar mechanisms to extract behaviorally relevant information from these precisely timed responses. Here, we explore the putative roles of spike timing in touch and hearing and discuss common mechanisms that may be involved in processing temporal spiking patterns.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology*