Functional Architecture and Encoding of Tactile Sensorimotor Behavior in Rat Posterior Parietal Cortex

Hemanth Mohan, Roel de Haan, Robin Broersen, Anton W. Pieneman, Fritjof Helmchen, Jochen F. Staiger, Huibert D. Mansvelder, Christiaan P.J. de Kock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) in rodents is reciprocally connected to primary somatosensory and vibrissal motor cortices. The PPC neuronal circuitry could thus encode and potentially integrate incoming somatosensory information and whisker motor output. However, the information encoded across PPC layers during refined sensorimotor behavior remains largely unknown. To uncover the sensorimotor features represented in PPC during voluntary whisking and object touch, we performed loose-patch single-unit recordings and extracellular recordings of ensemble activity, covering all layers of PPC in anesthetized and awake, behaving male rats. First, using single-cell receptive field mapping, we revealed the presence of coarse somatotopy along the mediolateral axis in PPC. Second, we found that spiking activity was modulated during exploratory whisking in layers 2– 4 and layer 6, but not in layer 5 of awake, behaving rats. Population spiking activity preceded actual movement, and whisker trajectory endpoints could be decoded by population spiking, suggesting that PPC is involved in movement planning. Finally, population spiking activity further increased in response to active whisker touch but only in PPC layers 2– 4. Thus, we find layer-specific processing, which emphasizes the computational role of PPC during whisker sensorimotor behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7332-7343
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Publisher Copyright: Copyright © 2019 the authors


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