Digit removal leads to discrepancies between the structural and functional organization of the forepaw barrel subfield in layer IV of rat primary somatosensory cortex

Carl A. McCandlish, Cheng X. Li, Robert Waters, Eugene M. Howard

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Abstract

The physiological representation of the forepaw in rat primary somatosensory cortex (SI) is topographically organized. This representation is associated with the unique arrangement of barrels in layer IV of the forepaw barrel subfield (FBS) in SI and provides an example of a relationship between cortical structure and function. It has been reported that removal of peripheral afferent input to the FBS prior to postnatal day 5 or 6 results in a disorganized FBS, while deafferentation at later times produces little or no alteration of the FBS. Therefore, restricted deafferentations of individual digits in adult rats should result in little, if any, disruption of the FBS, while at the same time eliminating afferent input to the FBS from a localized region of the periphery. This manipulation is likely to create a mismatch between structure and function and offer insight into what barrels actually represent in the adult deafferent. In the present study, we amputated digit three (D3) in eight adult rats, allowed a 1-month survival time, physiologically mapped the representation of D2, D4, and the stump, and compared this physiological map to the underlying barrels in the FBS. Our results showed that FBS barrels for merry associated with the representation of D3 were now associated with the representation of surrounding digits D2 and D4, as well as the remaining stump. By superimposing the morphological and physiological map upon one another, it was clear that the D2 and D4 representations expanded into the former D3 barrel territory and septae between the barrels. The reorganized physiological map was somatotopically organized, even though the general configuration of the morphological map remained unaltered, as visualized with cytochrome oxidase staining. These results suggest that in the deafferent, neurons within FBS barrels previously associated with the representation of punctate regions of skin become associated with neighboring regions of skin. A morphological substrate to account for this cortical reorganization is described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-426
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume108
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

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Somatosensory Cortex
Skin
Electron Transport Complex IV
Staining and Labeling
Neurons

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Digit removal leads to discrepancies between the structural and functional organization of the forepaw barrel subfield in layer IV of rat primary somatosensory cortex. / McCandlish, Carl A.; Li, Cheng X.; Waters, Robert; Howard, Eugene M.

In: Experimental Brain Research, Vol. 108, No. 3, 01.01.1996, p. 417-426.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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