Spatial Localization by the Rat Vibrissal System
Most sensory systems process information collected through actively generated movements. The rodent vibrissal system is one such system, whereby specialized facial musculature enables fine control of whisker movement. Sensory events upon whisker-object contact are encoded in the activity of primary afferents of the trigeminal system. These afferents are tuned to features of whisker deflection, such as direction, velocity, acceleration and temporal frequency. Little is known about how rats optimize whisker movements in order to maximise the information contained in afferent activity. Here, we review a number of behavioral and physiological studies that identify primary motor strategies and the neuronal variables that are likely optimized for reliable encoding of object location.
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