Low-Dimensional Sensory Feature Representation by Trigeminal Primary Afferents

Michael R. Bale, Kyle Davies, Oliver J. Freeman, Robin A A Ince, Rasmus S. Petersen

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    In any sensory system, the primary afferents constitute the first level of sensory representation and fundamentally constrain all subsequent information processing. Here, we show that the spike timing, reliability, and stimulus selectivity of primary afferents in the whisker system can be accurately described by a simple model consisting of linear stimulus filtering combined with spike feedback.Wefitted the parameters of the model by recording the responses of primary afferents to filtered, white noise whisker motion in anesthetized rats. The model accurately predicted not only the response of primary afferents to white noise whisker motion (median correlation coefficient 0.92) but also to naturalistic, texture-induced whisker motion. The model accounted both for submillisecond spike-timing precision and for non-Poisson spike train structure. We found substantial diversity in the responses of the afferent population, but this diversity was accurately captured by the model:a2Dfilter subspace, corresponding to different mixtures of position and velocity sensitivity, captured 94% of the variance in the stimulus selectivity. Our results suggest that the first stage of the whisker system can be well approximated as a bank of linear filters, forming an overcomplete representation of a low-dimensional feature space. © 2013 the authors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)12003-12012
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Neuroscience
    Issue number29
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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