Reliability and stability of tactile perception in the whisker somatosensory system

Hariom Sharma, Rony Azouz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rodents rely on their whiskers as vital sensory tools for tactile perception, enabling them to distinguish textures and shapes. Ensuring the reliability and constancy of tactile perception under varying stimulus conditions remains a fascinating and fundamental inquiry. This study explores the impact of stimulus configurations, including whisker movement velocity and object spatial proximity, on texture discrimination and stability in rats. To address this issue, we employed three distinct approaches for our investigation. Stimulus configurations notably affected tactile inputs, altering whisker vibration’s kinetic and kinematic aspects with consistent effects across various textures. Through a texture discrimination task, rats exhibited consistent discrimination performance irrespective of changes in stimulus configuration. However, alterations in stimulus configuration significantly affected the rats’ ability to maintain stability in texture perception. Additionally, we investigated the influence of stimulus configurations on cortical neuronal responses by manipulating them experimentally. Notably, cortical neurons demonstrated substantial and intricate changes in firing rates without compromising the ability to discriminate between textures. Nevertheless, these changes resulted in a reduction in texture neuronal response stability. Stimulating multiple whiskers led to improved neuronal texture discrimination and maintained coding stability. These findings emphasize the importance of considering numerous factors and their interactions when studying the impact of stimulus configuration on neuronal responses and behavior.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1344758
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • cortex
  • sensory processing. perceptual constancy
  • somatosensory system
  • textures
  • whiskers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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