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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Aug;9(8):601-12. doi: 10.1038/nrn2411.

'Where' and 'what' in the whisker sensorimotor system.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA), 34014 Trieste, Italy.

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  • Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Sep;9(9):709.


In the visual system of primates, different neuronal pathways are specialized for processing information about the spatial coordinates of objects and their identity - that is, 'where' and 'what'. By contrast, rats and other nocturnal animals build up a neuronal representation of 'where' and 'what' by seeking out and palpating objects with their whiskers. We present recent evidence about how the brain constructs a representation of the surrounding world through whisker-mediated sense of touch. While considerable knowledge exists about the representation of the physical properties of stimuli - like texture, shape and position - we know little about how the brain represents their meaning. Future research may elucidate this and show how the transformation of one representation to another is achieved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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