Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

An elaborate sweep-stick code in rat barrel cortex

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  16 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 38, eabb7189
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb7189

Abstract

In rat barrel cortex, feature encoding schemes uncovered during broadband whisker stimulation are hard to reconcile with the simple stick-slip code observed during natural tactile behaviors, and this has hindered the development of a generalized computational framework. By designing broadband artificial stimuli to sample the inputs encoded under natural conditions, we resolve this disparity while markedly increasing the percentage of deep layer neurons found to encode whisker movements, as well as the diversity of these encoded features. Deep layer neurons encode two main types of events, sticks and sweeps, corresponding to high angular velocity bumps and large angular displacements with high velocity, respectively. Neurons can exclusively encode sticks or sweeps, or they can encode both, with or without direction selectivity. Beyond unifying coding theories from naturalistic and artificial stimulation studies, these findings delineate a simple and generalizable set of whisker movement features that can support a range of perceptual processes.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances