Thursday, February 21, 2008

Watching waves of activity sweep across the brain

This is sensory physiology in the age of YouTube. Peterson and colleagues have used a voltage sensitive dye technique to watch the wave of first sensory area and then motor area excitation that is caused by a tiny deflection of a face whisker of a mouse:
Single brief whisker deflections evoked highly distributed depolarizing cortical sensory responses, which began in the primary somatosensory barrel cortex and subsequently excited the whisker motor cortex. The spread of sensory information to motor cortex was dynamically regulated by behavior and correlated with the generation of sensory-evoked whisker movement. Sensory processing in motor cortex may therefore contribute significantly to active tactile sensory perception.

The video shows the response when a mouses whisker touches an edge:

The movement of the C2 whisker was filmed with a high-speed camera at 500 Hz in an awake behaving mouse during an active touch sequence. Sensorimotor cortex was simultaneously imaged with VSD. At the time indicated by the vertical dotted line, the whisker contacts the object evoking a spreading sensorimotor response, first in S1 and subsequently in M1. The single trial imaging of cortical activity and the behavioral filming are matched frame-by-frame, synchronized through TTL pulses.

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