Relationship between representation of hindpaw and hindpaw barrel subfield (HBS) in layer IV of rat somatosensory cortex


WE describe the organization of the hindpaw barrel subfield (HBS) in layer IV of rat somatosensory cortex (SI) and relate this organization to the representation of the hindpaw. The ovoid-shaped, HBS is oriented anterior to posterior and comprises barrels and barrel-like structures, the most prominent of which consist of at least five anteriorly-located elongated barrel bands. Posterior to these elongated bands is a cluster of four barrels. Two additional barrels are found, one lateral, the other medial. The lateral border is formed by a nearly continuous band that overlaps portions of the anterior elongated bands and posterior barrels. The HBS shows considerable variability in size and shape; nevertheless, the overall pattern reflects a common plan of organization. Electrophysiological mapping confirmed that hindpaw representation is somatotopically organized. The glabrous toes are represented anteriorly, the pads posteriorly, and the dorsal hairy skin of the toes and hindpaw laterally. By aligning physiological and morphological (HBS) maps according to lesion sites, our data suggest that the elongated anteriorly-located barrel bands represent the hindpaw toes, the four toe pads are represented immediately posterior followed by barrels representing the plantar pads. The representations of dorsal hairy skin of toe and dorsal hindpaw form the lateral border; the heel and ankle are represented most posterior. We interpret our findings as support that individual barrels in the HBS are associated with discrete regions of the hindpaw; however, the precise relationship of structure and function reported between the vibrissae and posteromedial barrel subfield (PMBSF) and between the forepaw and the forepaw barrel subfield (FBS) were not observed.

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