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Neuron. 2015 Feb 18;85(4):718-25. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.12.059. Epub 2015 Jan 29.

Barrel cortex membrane potential dynamics in social touch.

Author information

1
Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Humboldt University of Berlin, Philippstraße 13, 10115 Berlin, Germany.
2
Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Humboldt University of Berlin, Philippstraße 13, 10115 Berlin, Germany. Electronic address: michael.brecht@bccn-berlin.de.

Erratum in

  • Neuron. 2015 Mar 4;85(5):1145.

Abstract

The impact of social stimuli on the membrane potential dynamics of barrel cortex neurons is unknown. We obtained in vivo whole-cell recordings in the barrel cortex of head-restrained rats while they interacted with conspecifics. Social touch was associated with a depolarization and large membrane potential fluctuations locked to the rat's whisking. Both depolarization and membrane potential fluctuations were already observed prior to contact and did not occur during free whisking. This anticipatory pre-contact depolarization was not seen in passive social touch in anesthetized animals. The membrane potential fluctuations locked to the rat's whisking observed in interactions with awake conspecifics were larger than those seen for whisking onto nonconspecific stimuli (stuffed rats, objects, and the experimenter's hand). Responses did not correlate with whisker movement parameters. We conclude that responses to social touch differ from conventional tactile responses in (1) amplitude, (2) locking to whisking, and (3) pre-contact membrane potential changes.

PMID:
25640075
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2014.12.059
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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