A multi-channel whisker stimulator for producing spatiotemporally complex tactile stimuli.
A system is described that delivers complex, biologically realistic, tactile stimuli to the rat's facial whisker pad by independently stimulating up to 16 individual facial whiskers in a flexible yet highly controlled and repeatable manner. The system is technically simple and inexpensive to construct. The system consists of an array of 16 miniature-solenoid driven actuators that are attached to 16 individual facial whiskers via very small (130 microm dia.) Teflon-coated stainless steel wires. When individual solenoids are energized, the wire is rapidly retracted, resulting in a deflection of individual whiskers. The rise time of deflection is approx. 1 mm/ms. Repeatable stimulation of individual whiskers can be achieved without touching adjacent whiskers, thereby allowing a very high density of stimulators to be attached within the spatially restricted region of the facial whisker pad. Complex patterns of whisker stimulation (designed to mimic biologically realistic stimuli) are delivered to the whisker pad by activating individual solenoid actuators in precisely controlled temporal patterns. These stimulations can be combined with multi-electrode single-unit ensemble recordings at multiple sites within the rat trigeminal somatosensory system. Analysis of neuronal population responses to these complex stimuli is intended to examine how the trigeminal somatosensory system encodes and processes spatiotemporally complex stimuli.
Krupa, DJ; Brisben, AJ; Nicolelis, MA
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