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Somatosens Mot Res. 2003;20(3-4):191-8.

Whisker motor cortex ablation and whisker movement patterns.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Hunter College (CUNY), New York City, NY 10021, USA.


Previous studies, based on qualitative observations, reported that lesions of the whisker motor cortex produce no deficits in whisking behavior. We used high-resolution optoelectronic recording methods to compare the temporal organization and kinematics of whisker movements before and after unilateral lesions of whisker motor cortex in rats. We now report that while the lesion did not abolish whisking, it significantly disrupted whisking kinematics, coordination, and temporal organization. Lesioned animals showed significant increases in the velocity and amplitude of whisker protractions contralateral to the lesions, as well as a reduction in the synchrony of whisker movements on the two sides of the face. There was a marked shift in the distribution of whisking frequencies, with reduction of activity in the 5-7 Hz bandwidth and increased activity at < 2 Hz. Disruptions of the normal whisking pattern were evident on both sides of the face, and the magnitude of these effects was proportional to the extent of the cortical ablation. We suggest that the observed deficits reflect an imbalance in cortical inputs to a brainstem central pattern generator.

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