Task- and subject-related differences in sensorimotor behavior during active touch

Somatosens Mot Res. 1995;12(1):1-9. doi: 10.3109/08990229509063138.


Rats explore objects by rhythmically whisking them with their mystacial vibrissae. On two types of tactile discrimination tasks, macrogeometric and microgeometric, better performers palpated the discrimnanda for longer periods of time and used movement patterns that appeared to optimize whisking frequency bandwidth and the extent to which the vibrissae would be bent by object contact. On a task involving finely textured surfaces, good and poor performers differed in the temporal components of their whisking patterns, whereas the spatial domain was more important for animals palpating surfaces with widely separated features. These findings are consistent with increasing neurophysiological evidence that the central representation of the tactile periphery, in rodents and other mammals, is both integrative and dynamic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Vibrissae / innervation*
  • Visual Perception / physiology