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Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive Haptic Object Localization in the Vibrissal System: Behavior

Summary: Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive
Haptic Object Localization in the Vibrissal System: Behavior
and Performance
Per Magne Knutsen, Maciej Pietr, and Ehud Ahissar
Department of Neurobiology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, 76100 Rehovot, Israel
learned to discriminate offsets in horizontal (anteroposterior) location with all, one row, or one arc of whiskers intact, but not when only
a single whisker (C2) was intact on each cheek. However, rats initially trained with multiple whiskers typically improved when retested
later with a single whisker intact. Individual rats reached localization thresholds as low as 0.24 mm ( 1). Among the tested groups,
localization acuity was finest ( 1.5 mm) with rats that were initially trained with all whiskers and then trimmed to one arc of whiskers
intact. Horizontal acuity was finer than the typical inter-vibrissal spacing ( 4.8 mm at contact points). Performance correlated with the
performance to chance level. We conclude that horizontal object localization in the rat vibrissal system can reach hyperacuity level and is
an active sensing process: whisker movements are both required and beneficiary, in a graded manner, for making accurate positional
Key words: rats; whisking; active touch; hyperacuity; learning; sensory deprivation
The array of mystacial vibrissas (whiskers) is an important tactile
sensory apparatus in many mammals. Rats can use their whiskers


Source: Ahissar, Ehud - Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science


Collections: Biology and Medicine