Project Detail
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Neural mechanisms of tactile sensation in rodent somatosensory cortex  

How the brain's cerebral cortex functions, and how this function goes awry in diseases like autism and mental retardation, remain unknown. Investigators in this study will examine how the rat brain processes and encodes touch information through face whiskers. Specifically, they will study quantitatively how surface texture is transformed into a pattern of vibrations by the sensory periphery (the whiskers, which function similarly to human fingertips), and encoded by action potentials in populations of neurons in part of the brain that processes touch information, the whisker somatosensory cortex (S1). Using gold-standard techniques to measure sensory information and modern optogenetics techniques to activate cortical neurons using light, investigators will identify the physical and neurobiological signals that convey information about surface texture in somatosensory cortex. Such baseline knowledge about normal cerebral cortex function is critically needed to understand cortical processing defects in autism, mental retardation, and other neurological diseases. Because rodent S1 is a major disease model for Fragile X mental retardation, epilepsy and other disorders, this work could help establish how these diseases impair cortical function. In addition, results from this study may be particularly relevant for autism, which involves deficits in vibrotactile processing, and whose brain circuit basis may be revealed by studying defects in S1 processing in rodent models. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $284,334.00
Current Award Period 2010-2015
Project Number 1R01NS072416-01
Principal Investigator Feldman, Daniel
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Sensory and Motor Function
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of California, Berkeley
State/Country California
Web Link 1 Neural mechanisms of tactile sensation in rodent somatosensory cortex (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A