Robust Temporal Coding in the Trigeminal System

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Science  25 Jun 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5679, pp. 1986-1989
DOI: 10.1126/science.1097779

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The ability of rats to use their whiskers for fine tactile discrimination rivals that of humans using their fingertips. Rats perform discriminations rapidly and accurately while palpating the environment with their whiskers. This suggests that whisker deflections produce a robust and reliable neural code. Whisker primary afferents respond with highly reproducible temporal spike patterns to transient stimuli. Here we show that, with the use of a linear kernel, any of these reproducible response trains recorded from an individual neuron can reliably predict complex whisker deflections. These predictions are significantly improved by integrating responses from neurons with opposite angular preferences.

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