Article abstract

Nature Neuroscience 11, 1430 - 1438 (2008)
Published online: 16 November 2008 | doi:10.1038/nn.2227

Motor modulation of afferent somatosensory circuits

SooHyun Lee1,3, George E Carvell2 & Daniel J Simons1

A prominent feature of thalamocortical circuitry in sensory systems is the extensive and highly organized feedback projection from the cortex to the thalamic neurons that provide stimulus-specific input to the cortex. In lightly sedated rats, we found that focal enhancement of motor cortex activity facilitated sensory-evoked responses of topographically aligned neurons in primary somatosensory cortex, including antidromically identified corticothalamic cells; similar effects were observed in ventral posterior medial thalamus (VPm). In behaving rats, thalamic responses were normally smaller during whisking but larger when signal transmission in brainstem trigeminal nuclei was bypassed or altered. During voluntary movement, sensory activity may be globally suppressed in the brainstem, whereas signaling by cortically facilitated VPm neurons is simultaneously enhanced relative to other VPm neurons receiving no such facilitation.

  1. Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.
  2. Department of Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, 166 Atwood Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.
  3. Present address: Smilow Neuroscience Program, New York University School of Medicine, 522 1st Avenue, New York, New York 10016, USA.

Correspondence to: Daniel J Simons1 e-mail:


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