The most sensitive inputs to cutaneous representing regions of primary somatosensory cortex do not change with behavioral training

David T. Blake, Elsie Spingath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Learning a sensory detection task leads to an increased primary sensory cortex response to the detected stimulus, while learning a sensory discrimination task additionally leads to a decreased sensory cortex response to the distractor stimulus. Neural responses are scaled up, and down, in strength, along with concomitant changes in receptive field size. The present work considers neural response properties that are invariant to learning. Data are drawn from two animals that were trained to detect and discriminate spatially separate taps delivered to positions on the skin of their fingers. Each animal was implanted with electrodes positioned in area 3b, and responses were derived on a near daily basis over 84 days in animal 1 and 202 days in animal 2. Responses to taps delivered in the receptive field were quantitatively measured each day, and receptive fields were audiomanually mapped each day. In the subset of responses that had light cutaneous receptive fields, a preponderance of the days, the most sensitive region of the field was invariant to training. This skin region was present in the receptive field on all, or nearly all, occasions in which the receptive field was mapped, and this region constituted roughly half of the most sensitive region. These results suggest that maintaining the most sensitive inputs as dominant in cortical receptive fields provide a measure of stability that may be transformationally useful for minimizing reconstruction errors and perceptual constancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12623
JournalPhysiological reports
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Implant
  • Map plasticity
  • Receptive field
  • Somatosensory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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