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Publication Summary and Abstract

Mitchinson, B., Gurney, K. N., Redgrave, P., Melhuish, C., Pipe, A. G., Pearson, M., Gilhespy, I. & Prescott, T. J. (2004), Empirically inspired simulated electro-mechanical model of the rat mystacial follicle-sinus-complex, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 271:2509-2516.

In whiskered animals, activity is evoked in the primary sensory afferent cells (trigeminal nerve) by mechanical stimulation of the whiskers. In some cell populations this activity is correlated well with continuous stimulus parameters such as whisker deflection magnitude, but in others it is observed to represent events such as whisker-stimulator contact or detachment. The transduction process is mediated by the mechanics of the whisker shaft and follicle–sinus complex (FSC), and the mechanics and electro-chemistry of mechanoreceptors within the FSC. An understanding of this transduction process and the nature of the primary neural codes generated is crucial for understanding more central sensory processing in the thalamus and cortex. However, the details of the peripheral processing are currently poorly understood. To overcome this deficiency in our knowledge, we constructed a simulated electro-mechanical model of the whisker– FSC–mechanoreceptor system in the rat and tested it against a variety of data drawn from the literature. The agreement was good enough to suggest that the model captures many of the key features of the peripheral whisker system in the rat.
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