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J Physiol. 1969 Feb;200(3):763-96.

The structure and function of a slowly adapting touch corpuscle in hairy skin.


1. Slowly adapting cutaneous mechanoreceptors, in the cat and primates, have been studied by histological and neurophysiological methods.2. Each touch corpuscle is a dome-shaped elevation of the epidermis, whose deepest layer contains up to fifty specialized tactile cells.3. Nerve plates, enclosed by the tactile cell (Merkel cells), are connected to a single myelinated axon in the dense collagenous core of the corpuscle.4. The corpuscle generated > 1000 impulses/sec when excited by vertical surface pressure. The response was highly localized and showed a low mechanical threshold, the frequency being dependent upon the velocity and amplitude of the displacement. There was a period of rapid adaptation before a sustained response which might continue for > 30 min.5. A quantitative analysis of the responses to excitation by displacements of differing amplitude, velocity and duration is included.6. The discharge of touch corpuscle units evoked by a mechanical stimulus was temperature-sensitive, and was enhanced by a fall in skin temperature.

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