Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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Tuesday, 08.02.2011 17 c.t.

Stages of processing for building tactile perception in the rat whisker system

by Prof. Dr. Mathew Diamond
from Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies), Trieste, Italy

Contact person: Demian Battaglia


Seminarraum Haus 2, 4. Stock (Bunsenstr.)


Our sensory systems gather stimuli as elemental physical features yet we perceive a world made up of familiar objects, not wavelengths or vibrations. Perception occurs when the neuronal representation of physical parameters is transformed into the neuronal representation of meaningful objects. How does this occur? Understanding the general principles for the construction of perception will help explain why we experience the world as we do. An ideal platform for the inquiry is the rat whisker sensory system: it produces fast and accurate judgments of complex stimuli, yet can be broken down into accessible neuronal mechanisms. Understanding start-to-finish tactile perception in rats is a long term project and we are far from reaching its conclusion. Here I will present some pieces of the puzzle that we have so far collected, focusing on what happens in the whisker and in the brain when a rat feels a texture.

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