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Sensory processing, whisker system


To localize objects during active sensing, animals must differentiate stimuli caused by volitional movement from real-world object motion. To determine a neural basis for this ability, we examined the mouse superior colliculus (SC), which contains multiple egocentric maps of sensorimotor space. By placing mice in a whisker-guided virtual reality, we discovered a rapidly adapting tactile response that transiently emerged during externally generated gains in whisker contact. Responses to self-generated touch that matched self-generated history were significantly attenuated, revealing that transient response magnitude is controlled by sensorimotor predictions. The magnitude of the transient response gradually decreased with repetitions in external motion, revealing a slow habituation based on external history. The direction of external motion was accurately encoded in the firing rates of transiently responsive neurons. These data reveal that whisker-specific adaptation and sensorimotor predictions in SC neurons enhance the localization of unexpected, externally generated changes in tactile space.


This is the published version of the Chinta, S., Pluta, S.R. Neural mechanisms for the localization of unexpected external motion. Nat Commun 14, 6112 (2023).