Barrel cortex

Definition

The barrel cortex consists of the regions of the primary somatosensory cortex that receive input from the whiskers via the thalamus. Barrel cortex is organized into cylindrical columns of neurons whose topographical arrangement mirrors that of the whisker follicles. Studying the barrel cortex has provided insight into cortical processing and plasticity.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    Barrel cortex contains a functional map of whiskers but how neuronal activity maps multi-whisker inputs has not been studied. Here the authors show that while uncorrelated multi-whisker stimuli activate barrel neurons, correlated multi-whisker inputs activate neurons in a ring at the barrel-septa boundary

    • Luc Estebanez
    • , Julien Bertherat
    • , Daniel E. Shulz
    • , Laurent Bourdieu
    •  & Jean- François Léger
  • Research |

    During tactile exploration, neural activity related to movement of digits or whiskers is suppressed to facilitate high signal-to-noise ratio encoding of touch. The authors show that in mouse this computation occurs in layer 4 of the barrel cortex and is mediated by fast-spiking interneurons.

    • Jianing Yu
    • , Diego A Gutnisky
    • , S Andrew Hires
    •  & Karel Svoboda
    Nature Neuroscience 19, 1647–1657
  • Research |

    The authors find that the portion of rat somatosensory cortex representing the trident whiskers—a set of whiskers specialized for ground contact during exploration—encodes information about speed and acceleration of the animal. Microstimulation of this area alters running speed, consistent with the idea that trident whiskers and their neural representation could serve as a tactile speedometer.

    • Edith Chorev
    • , Patricia Preston-Ferrer
    •  & Michael Brecht
    Nature Neuroscience 19, 1367–1373
  • Research | | open

    Sensory cortices receive input from cortical cells and the thalamus, yet it is unknown how these inputs interact to generate synchronous activity. Here authors show that unlike cortical inputs, thalamic inputs are asynchronous, suggesting that cortical synchronization is due to intracortical coupling.

    • Katayun Cohen-Kashi Malina
    • , Boaz Mohar
    • , Akiva N. Rappaport
    •  & Ilan Lampl
  • Research |

    Feedforward and feedback synaptic pathways shape how neural activity evolves across cortical areas, but they are difficult to monitor using traditional methods during behavior. The authors use pathway-specific and cellular-resolution in vivo imaging to quantify sensory and decision-related neural activity both within and propagating between two cortical areas critical for touch perception.

    • Sung Eun Kwon
    • , Hongdian Yang
    • , Genki Minamisawa
    •  & Daniel H O'Connor
    Nature Neuroscience 19, 1243–1249
  • Research |

    Sensory cortex spiking is well known to predict trial-to-trial variability in perceptual choice, but the origins of this choice-related activity are not fully understood. In the mouse somatosensory system, electrophysiology, imaging and optogenetic experiments reveal a progression of choice-related activity as touch signals flow from primary afferents to cortex.

    • Hongdian Yang
    • , Sung E Kwon
    • , Kyle S Severson
    •  & Daniel H O'Connor
    Nature Neuroscience 19, 127–134

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