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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
Usingtheirlargemystacialvibrissas,ratsperformavarietyoftasks,includinglocalizationandidentificationofobjects.Wereportonthe
discriminatorythresholdsandbehaviorofratstrainedinahorizontalobjectlocalizationtask.Usinganadaptivetrainingprocedure,rats
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
netwhiskingspectralpowerintherangeof525Hzbutnotinnonwhiskingrangeof3050Hz.Lesioningthefacialmotornervesreduced
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
judgments.
Key words: rats; whisking; active touch; hyperacuity; learning; sensory deprivation
Introduction
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