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J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Mar 15;177(2):434-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2008.11.002. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

A novel method for precisely timed stimulation of mouse whiskers in a freely moving preparation: application for delivery of the conditioned stimulus in trace eyeblink conditioning.

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Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, United States. <>


The somatosensory whisker pathway has been a useful system for increasing our understanding of experience-induced plasticity. However, precisely timed whisker activation in the awake freely moving mouse has been very difficult. This manuscript describes a method for construction of a whisker stimulator that can be attached to a freely moving mouse. The stimulator was used to activate the whiskers in a time-sensitive forebrain-dependent task, trace eyeblink conditioning. After repeatedly pairing whisker stimulation with delivery of a mild periorbital shock following a stimulus-free trace interval, trace-conditioned mice were able to learn the association. This study demonstrates the potential for using the whisker stimulator in time-sensitive behavioral tasks, such as trace eyeblink conditioning, thus enhancing our ability to examine experience-induced neuronal plasticity in the somatosensory whisker pathway in awake behaving rodents.

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