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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2018 Dec;53:43-49. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.04.028. Epub 2018 May 10.

Constraints on somatosensory map development: mutants lead the way.

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Inserm, U839, Institut du Fer à Moulin, Paris, France; Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France. Electronic address:
Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France; Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière (ICM) - Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Inserm, CNRS, Paris, France.


In the rodent somatosensory system, the disproportionally large whisker representation and their specialization into barrel-shaped units in the different sensory relays has offered experimentalists with an ideal tool to identify mechanisms involved in brain map formation. These combine three intertwined constraints: Firstly, fasciculation of the incoming axons; secondly, early neural activity; finally, molecular patterning. Sophisticated genetic manipulations in mice have now allowed dissecting these mechanisms with greater accuracy. Here we discuss some recent papers that provided novel insights into how these different mapping rules and constraints interact to shape the barrel map.


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