Tactile responses in the granule cell layer of cerebellar folium crus IIa of freely behaving rats

Mitra J. Hartmann, James M. Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We recorded activity from the granule cell layer (GCL) of cerebellar folium Crus IIa as freely moving rats engaged in a variety of natural behaviors, including grooming, eating, and free tactile exploration. Multiunit responses in the 1000-4500 Hz range were found to be strongly correlated with tactile stimulation of lip and whisker (perioral) regions. These responses occurred regardless of whether the stimulus was externally or self-generated and during both active and passive touch. In contrast, perioral movements that did not tactually stimulate this region of the face (e.g., chewing) produced no detectable increases in GCL activity. In addition, GCL responses were not correlated with movement extremes. When rats used their lips actively for palpation and exploration, the tactile responses in the GCL were not detectably modulated by ongoing jaw movements. However, active palpation and exploratory behaviors did result in the largest and most continuous bursts of GCL activity: responses were on average 10% larger and 50% longer during palpation and exploration than during grooming or passive stimulation. Although activity levels differed between behaviors, the position and spatial extent of the peripheral receptive field was similar over all behaviors that resulted in tactile input. Overall, our data suggest that the 1000-4500 Hz multiunit responses in the Crus IIa GCL of awake rats are correlated with tactile input rather than with movement or any movement parameter and that these responses are likely to be of particular importance during the acquisition of sensory information by perioral structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3549-3563
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Active sensing
  • Active touch
  • Cerebellar granule cells
  • Exploration
  • Grooming
  • Ingestive
  • Mossy fibers
  • Passive touch
  • Somatosensory
  • Vibrissae
  • Whiskers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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