Representation of moving tactile stimuli in the somatic sensory cortex of awake monkeys

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Feb;73(2):525-37. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.73.2.525.

Abstract

1. We have studied how neurons of primary somatic sensory (SI) cortex encode the direction and speed of moving tactile stimuli delivered to the glabrous skin of the contralateral hand. 2. From a total of 178 neurons recorded in SI cortex of 3 awake Macaca mulatta monkeys, 103 were selected for quantitative analysis. Forty-six neurons had slowly adapting (SA) responses, 43 quickly adapting (QA), and 14 mixed SA-QA properties. All possessed cutaneous receptive fields on the distal segments of digits 2, 3, or 4. Receptive fields were scanned with a metal probe (2 mm diam, hemispheric tip) in four different directions (0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees), over a fixed traverse distance of 6 mm, at a variety of speeds (4-100 mm/s), and with a static normal force of 20 g by means of a computer-controlled tactile stimulator. 3. Most neurons gave statistically significant differences in mean impulse rate during the moving stimuli (Wilcoxon, P < 0.01), in at least one of the four directions, compared with the control (nonstimulus) period. The Kruskal-Wallis test (P < 0.01) and the direction index (DI > 35%) determined that about one-half of SI cortical neurons showed significant differences in mean impulse rates associated with the direction of the stimuli at the speeds of 23, 50, and 100 mm/s, and about one-third at 4 mm/s. 4. We determined how the temporal covariance of the neural activity was associated with the parameters of the moving stimuli by calculating the coefficients of the Karhunen-Loève (KL) transform for each set of stimulus responses. Decomposition of the neural activity into principal components indicated that approximately 85% of the impulse train variance during the stimulus responses was contained in the 1st 10 coefficients of the KL transform for the speeds of 23, 50, and 100 mm/s, and approximately 75% at the speed of 4 mm/s. The line spectra calculated from the coefficients of the KL transform showed that the variance contained in the impulse trains in about one-half of the neurons is related to the stimuli. 5. We investigated how the temporal covariance of the neuronal activity was correlated with the direction of the stimulus, by fitting the first coefficient of the KL transform to a weighting function model. This analysis showed that the first coefficient of the KL transform varied as an orderly function of the direction of the moving stimuli.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Touch / physiology*