Tactile modulation of whisking via the brainstem loop: Statechart modeling and experimental validation

Dana Sherman, Tess Oram, Dudi Deutsch, Goren Gordon, Ehud Ahissar, David Harel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rats repeatedly sweep their facial whiskers back and forth in order to explore their environment. Such explorative whisking appears to be driven by central pattern generators (CPGs) that operate independently of direct sensory feedback. Nevertheless, whisking can be modulated by sensory feedback, and it has been hypothesized that some of this modulation already occurs within the brainstem. However, the interaction between sensory feedback and CPG activity is poorly understood. Using the visual language of statecharts, a dynamic, bottom-up computerized model of the brainstem loop of the whisking system was built in order to investigate the interaction between sensory feedback and CPG activity during whisking behavior. As a benchmark, we used a previously quantified closed-loop phenomenon of the whisking system, touched-induced pump (TIP), which is thought to be mediated by the brainstem loop. First, we showed that TIPs depend on sensory feedback, by comparing TIP occurrence in intact rats with that in rats whose sensory nerve was experimentally cut. We then inspected several possible feedback mechanisms of TIPs using our model. The model ruled out all hypothesized mechanisms but one, which adequately simulated the corresponding motion observed in the rat. Results of the simulations suggest that TIPs are generated via sensory feedback that activates extrinsic retractor muscles in the mystacial pad. The model further predicted that in addition to the touching whisker, all whiskers found on the same side of the snout should exhibit a TIP. We present experimental results that confirm the predicted movements in behaving rats, establishing the validity of the hypothesized interaction between sensory feedback and CPG activity we suggest here for the generation of TIPs in the whisking system. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere79831
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Tactile modulation of whisking via the brainstem loop: Statechart modeling and experimental validation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this