A unifying framework underlying mechanotransduction in the somatosensory system

Eran Lottem, Rony Azouz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Rodents use their whiskers to sense their surroundings. As most of the information available to the somatosensory system originates in whiskers' primary afferents, it is essential to understand the transformation of whisker motion intoneuronal activity. Here, we combined in vivo recordings in anesthetized rats with mathematical modeling to ascertain the mechanical and electrical characteristics of mechano transduction. We found that only two synergistic processes, which reflect the dynamic interactions between (1) receptor and whisker and (2) receptor and surrounding tissue, are needed to describe mechano transduction during passive whiskers deflection. Interactions between these processes may account for stimulus-dependent changes in the magnitude and temporal pattern of tactile responses on multiple scales. Thus, we are able to explain complex electromechanical processes underlying sensory transduction using a simple model, which captures there sponses of a wide range of mechanoreceptor types to diverse sensorystimuli. This compact and precise model allows for a ubiquitous description of how mechanoreceptors encode tactile stimulus.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8520-8532
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number23
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


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