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Cell Rep. 2015 May 12;11(6):851-858. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.04.001. Epub 2015 Apr 30.

Somatosensory substrates of flight control in bats.

Author information

1
Departments of Dermatology and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.
2
Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA; Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
3
Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.
4
Institute for Systems Research, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
5
Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA; Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA; Institute for Systems Research, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address: cynthia.moss@jhu.edu.
6
Departments of Dermatology and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA; Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA. Electronic address: eal2166@columbia.edu.

Abstract

Flight maneuvers require rapid sensory integration to generate adaptive motor output. Bats achieve remarkable agility with modified forelimbs that serve as airfoils while retaining capacity for object manipulation. Wing sensory inputs provide behaviorally relevant information to guide flight; however, components of wing sensory-motor circuits have not been analyzed. Here, we elucidate the organization of wing innervation in an insectivore, the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus. We demonstrate that wing sensory innervation differs from other vertebrate forelimbs, revealing a peripheral basis for the atypical topographic organization reported for bat somatosensory nuclei. Furthermore, the wing is innervated by an unusual complement of sensory neurons poised to report airflow and touch. Finally, we report that cortical neurons encode tactile and airflow inputs with sparse activity patterns. Together, our findings identify neural substrates of somatosensation in the bat wing and imply that evolutionary pressures giving rise to mammalian flight led to unusual sensorimotor projections.

PMID:
25937277
PMCID:
PMC4643944
DOI:
10.1016/j.celrep.2015.04.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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