Sensorimotor integration in the trunk system is poorly understood despite its importance for functional recovery after neurological injury. To address this, a series of mapping studies were performed in the rat. First, the receptive fields (RFs) of cells recorded from thoracic dorsal root ganglia were identified. Second, the RFs of cells recorded from trunk primary sensory cortex (S1) were used to assess the extent and internal organization of trunk S1. Finally, the trunk motor cortex (M1) was mapped using intracortical microstimulation to assess coactivation of trunk muscles with hindlimb and forelimb muscles, and integration with S1. Projections from trunk S1 to trunk M1 were not anatomically organized, with relatively weak sensorimotor integration between trunk S1 and M1 compared to extensive integration between hindlimb S1/M1 and trunk M1. Assessment of response latency and anatomical tracing suggest that trunk M1 is abundantly guided by hindlimb somatosensory information that is derived primarily from the thalamus. Finally, neural recordings from awake animals during unexpected postural perturbations support sensorimotor integration between hindlimb S1 and trunk M1, providing insight into the role of the trunk system in postural control that is useful when studying recovery after injury.
Keywords: dermatome; dorsal root ganglion; mapping; motor cortex; sensory cortex.
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