Microsecond-scale Timing Precision in Rodent Trigeminal Primary Afferents

Michael R Bale, Dario Campagner, Andrew Erskine, Rasmus S Petersen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Communication in the nervous system occurs by spikes: the timing precision with which spikes are fired is a fundamental limit on neural information processing. In sensory systems, spike-timing precision is constrained by first-order neurons. We found that spike-timing precision of trigeminal primary afferents in rats and mice is limited both by stimulus speed and by electrophysiological sampling rate. High-speed video of behaving mice revealed whisker velocities of at least 17,000°/s, so we delivered an ultrafast "ping" (>50,000°/s) to single whiskers and sampled primary afferent activity at 500 kHz. Median spike jitter was 17.4 μs; 29% of neurons had spike jitter <10 μs. These results indicate that the input stage of the trigeminal pathway has extraordinary spike-timing precision and very high potential information capacity. This timing precision ranks among the highest in biology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5935-5940
    Number of pages6
    JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2015


    • neural coding
    • trigeminal ganglion
    • vibrissa
    • whisker


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