Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurophysiol. 2011 May;105(5):2225-38. doi: 10.1152/jn.01018.2010. Epub 2011 Mar 9.

Repeated whisker stimulation evokes invariant neuronal responses in the dorsolateral striatum of anesthetized rats: a potential correlate of sensorimotor habits.

Author information

Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Neural Engineering, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033-2255, USA.


The dorsolateral striatum (DLS) receives extensive projections from primary somatosensory cortex (SI), but very few studies have used somesthetic stimulation to characterize the sensory coding properties of DLS neurons. In this study, we used computer-controlled whisker deflections to characterize the extracellular responses of DLS neurons in rats lightly anesthetized with isoflurane. When multiple whiskers were synchronously deflected by rapid back-and-forth movements, whisker-sensitive neurons in the DLS responded to both directions of movement. The latency and magnitude of these neuronal responses displayed very little variation with changes in the rate (2, 5, or 8 Hz) of whisker stimulation. Simultaneous recordings in SI barrel cortex and the DLS revealed important distinctions in the neuronal responses of these serially connected brain regions. In contrast to DLS neurons, SI neurons were activated by the initial deflection of the whiskers but did not respond when the whiskers moved back to their original position. As the rate of whisker stimulation increased, SI responsiveness declined, and the latencies of the responses increased. In fact, when whiskers were deflected at 5 or 8 Hz, many neurons in the DLS responded before the SI neurons. These results and earlier anatomic findings suggest that a component of the sensory-induced response in the DLS is mediated by inputs from the thalamus. Furthermore, the lack of sensory adaptation in the DLS may represent a critical part of the neural mechanism by which the DLS encodes stimulus-response associations that trigger motor habits and other stimulus-evoked behaviors that are not contingent on rewarded outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center