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Sensory integration across space and in time for decision making in the somatosensory system of rodents

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Celikel,  Tansu
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Sakmann,  Bert
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Celikel, T., & Sakmann, B. (2007). Sensory integration across space and in time for decision making in the somatosensory system of rodents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(4), 1395-1400. doi:10.1073/pnas.0610267104.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-A761-D
Abstract
Environment is represented in the brain by a neural code that is a result of the spatiotemporal pattern of incoming sensory information. Sensory neurons encode inputs across space and in time such that activity of a given cell inhibits the ability of near-simultaneously arriving sensory stimuli to excite the cell. At the behavioral level, consequences of such suppression are unknown. We investigated the contribution of spatially distributed, near-simultaneous sensory inputs to decision making in a whisker-dependent learning task. Mice learned the task with a single whisker or multiple whiskers alike. Both groups of mice had similar learning curves and final success rates. However, multiple-whisker animals had faster response times than single-whisker mice, requiring only about half the time to perform the task successfully. The results show that spatially distributed sensory inputs in a highly redundant sensory environment improve speed but not accuracy of the decisions made during simple sensory detection. Suppression of the near-simultaneous sensory inputs could, therefore, act to reduce the sensory redundancy.