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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1994 May;72(5):542-5.

Central neural mechanisms of touch and proprioception.

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Département de physiologie, Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal, QC, Canada.


The argument is made that somesthesia is not strictly passive process, and its central neuronal mechanisms cannot be studied in all their complexity and subtlety by applying passive stimuli to uninterested or unconscious animals. The case is clear for kinesthesia. Peripheral proprioceptive signals are altered by active muscle contractions, and the central mechanisms of kinesthetic sensations should be studied during active movements. A similar case can be made for tactile discrimination. Ascending tactile afferents are subject to modulation during movement. Moreover, the generation of a central neural representation of the mechanical stimulus is only part of the tactile perceptual process. It is also influenced by the behavioral, attentive, and motivational state of the animal, whose effects can only be revealed in awake animals actively participating in discrimination tasks.

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