Simulations of a Vibrissa Slipping along a Straight Edge and an Analysis of Frictional Effects during Whisking.
ABSTRACT: During tactile exploration, rats sweep their whiskers against objects in a motion called whisking. Here, we investigate how a whisker slips along an object's edge and how friction affects the resulting tactile signals. First, a frictionless model is developed to simulate whisker slip along a straight edge and compared with a previous model that incorporates friction but cannot simulate slip. Results of both models are compared to behavioral data obtained as a rat whisked against a smooth, stainless steel peg. As expected, the frictionless model predicts larger magnitudes of vertical slip than observed experimentally. The frictionless model also predicts forces and moments at the whisker base that are smaller and have a different direction than those predicted by the model with friction. Estimates for the friction coefficient yielded values near 0.48 (whisker/stainless steel). The present work provides the first assessments of the effects of friction on the mechanical signals received by the follicle during active whisking. It also demonstrates a proof-of-principle approach for reducing whisker tracking requirements during experiments and demonstrates the feasibility of simulating a full array of vibrissae whisking against a peg.
Project description:Rats discriminate surface textures using their whiskers (vibrissae), but how whiskers extract texture information, and how this information is encoded by the brain, are not known. In the resonance model, whisker motion across different textures excites mechanical resonance in distinct subsets of whiskers, due to variation across whiskers in resonance frequency, which varies with whisker length. Texture information is therefore encoded by the spatial pattern of activated whiskers. In the competing kinetic signature model, different textures excite resonance equally across whiskers, and instead, texture is encoded by characteristic, nonuniform temporal patterns of whisker motion. We tested these models by measuring whisker motion in awake, behaving rats whisking in air and onto sandpaper surfaces. Resonant motion was prominent during whisking in air, with fundamental frequencies ranging from approximately 35 Hz for the long Delta whisker to approximately 110 Hz for the shorter D3 whisker. Resonant vibrations also occurred while whisking against textures, but the amplitude of resonance within single whiskers was independent of texture, contradicting the resonance model. Rather, whiskers resonated transiently during discrete, high-velocity, and high-acceleration slip-stick events, which occurred prominently during whisking on surfaces. The rate and magnitude of slip-stick events varied systematically with texture. These results suggest that texture is encoded not by differential resonant motion across whiskers, but by the magnitude and temporal pattern of slip-stick motion. These findings predict a temporal code for texture in neural spike trains.
Project description:The rodent vibrissal-trigeminal system is one of the most widely used models for the study of somatosensation and tactile perception, but to date the field has been unable to quantify the complete set of mechanical input signals generated during natural whisking behavior. In this report we show that during whisking behavior of awake rats (Rattus norvegicus), the whisker will often bend out of its plane of rotation, generating sizeable mechanical (tactile) signals out of the plane. We then develop a model of whisker bending that allows us to compute the three-dimensional tactile signals at the vibrissal base during active whisking behavior. Considerable information can be lost if whisking motions are considered only in two dimensions, and we offer some suggestions for experimentalists concerned with monitoring the direction of bending. These data represent the first quantification of the physical signals transmitted to the mechanoreceptors in the follicle during active whisking behavior.
Project description:Rats use their whiskers as tactile sensors to sense their environment. Active whisking, moving whiskers back and forth continuously, is one of prominent features observed in rodents. They can discriminate different textures or extract features of a nearby object such as size, shape and distance through active whisking. There have been studies to localize objects with artificial whiskers inspired by rat whiskers. The linear whisker model based on beam theory has been used to estimate the radial distance, that is, the distance between the base of the whisker and a target object. In this paper, we investigate deflection angle measurements instead of forces or moments, based on a linear tapered whisker model to see the role of tapered whiskers found in real animals. We analyze how accurately this model estimates the radial distance, and quantify the estimation errors and noise sensitivity. We also compare the linear model simulation and nonlinear numerical solutions. It is shown that the radial distance can be estimated using deflection angles at two different positions on the tapered whisker. We argue that the tapered whisker has an advantage of estimating the radial distance better, as compared to an untapered whisker, and active sensing allows that estimation without the whisker's material property and thickness or the moment at base. In addition, we investigate the potential of passive sensing for tactile localization.
Project description:Rats sweep their facial whiskers back and forth to generate tactile sensory information through contact with environmental structure. The neural processes operating on the signals arising from these whisker contacts are widely studied as a model of sensing in general, even though detailed knowledge of the natural circumstances under which such signals are generated is lacking. We used digital video tracking and wireless recording of mystacial electromyogram signals to assess the effects of whisker-object contact on whisking in freely moving animals exploring simple environments. Our results show that contact leads to reduced protraction (forward whisker motion) on the side of the animal ipsilateral to an obstruction and increased protraction on the contralateral side. Reduced ipsilateral protraction occurs rapidly and in the same whisk cycle as the initial contact. We conclude that whisker movements are actively controlled so as to increase the likelihood of environmental contacts while constraining such interactions to involve a gentle touch. That whisking pattern generation is under strong feedback control has important implications for understanding the nature of the signals reaching upstream neural processes.
Project description:Maintenance of reinforced concrete structures is a prevailing topic, especially with regard to lifeline structures and bridges, many of which are now designed with a service life beyond 100 years. Reinforcement made of ordinary (carbon) steel may corrode in aggressive environments. Stainless steel, being much more resistant to corrosion, is a valid solution to facilitate the protection of the works, increasing the service life and reducing the need for repair and maintenance. Despite the potential for stainless steel to reduce maintenance costs, studies investigating the influence of stainless steel on the behavior of reinforced concrete structures are limited. This study investigated the bond behavior of stainless steel rebars by means of experimental tests on reinforced concrete specimens with different concrete cover thicknesses, concrete strengths, and bar diameters. In each case, identical specimens with carbon steel reinforcement were tested for comparison. The failure modes of the specimens were examined, and a bond stress-slip relationship for stainless steel bars was established. This research shows that the bond behavior of stainless steel rebars is comparable to that of carbon steel bars.
Project description:During navigation, rodents continually sample the environment with their whiskers. How locomotion modulates neuronal activity in somatosensory cortex, and how it is integrated with whisker-touch remains unclear. Here, we compared neuronal activity in layer 2/3 (L2/3) and L5 of barrel cortex using calcium imaging in mice running in a tactile virtual reality. Both layers increase their activity during running and concomitant whisking, in the absence of touch. Fewer neurons are modulated by whisking alone. Whereas L5 neurons respond transiently to wall-touch during running, L2/3 neurons show sustained activity. Consistently, neurons encoding running-with-touch are more abundant in L2/3 and they encode the run-speed better during touch. Few neurons across layers were also sensitive to abrupt perturbations of tactile flow during running. In summary, locomotion significantly enhances barrel cortex activity across layers with L5 neurons mainly reporting changes in touch conditions and L2/3 neurons continually integrating tactile stimuli with running.
Project description:Tactile objects have both local geometry (shape) and broader macroscopic texture, but how these different spatial scales are simultaneously encoded during active touch is unknown. In the whisker system, we tested for a shared code based on localized whisker micromotions (stick-slips) and slip-evoked spikes. We trained mice to discriminate smooth from rough surfaces, including ridged gratings and sandpaper. Whisker slips locked to ridges and evoked temporally precise spikes (<10 ms jitter) in somatosensory cortex (S1) that could resolve ridges with ?1 mm accuracy. Slip-sensitive neurons also encoded touch and texture. On rough surfaces, both slip-evoked spikes and an additional non-slip signal elevated mean firing rate, allowing accurate rough-smooth texture decoding from population firing rate. Eighteen percent of neurons were selective among rough surfaces. Thus, slips elicit spatially and temporally precise spiking in S1 that simultaneously encodes local shape (ridges) and is integrated into a macroscopic firing rate code for roughness.
Project description:The cortical output layer 5 contains two excitatory cell types, slender- and thick-tufted neurons. In rat vibrissal cortex, slender-tufted neurons carry motion and phase information during active whisking, but remain inactive after passive whisker touch. In contrast, thick-tufted neurons reliably increase spiking preferably after passive touch. By reconstructing the 3D patterns of intracortical axon projections from individual slender- and thick-tufted neurons, filled in vivo with biocytin, we were able to identify cell type-specific intracortical circuits that may encode whisker motion and touch. Individual slender-tufted neurons showed elaborate and dense innervation of supragranular layers of large portions of the vibrissal area (total length, 86.8 ± 5.5 mm). During active whisking, these long-range projections may modulate and phase-lock the membrane potential of dendrites in layers 2 and 3 to the whisking cycle. Thick-tufted neurons with soma locations intermingling with those of slender-tufted ones display less dense intracortical axon projections (total length, 31.6 ± 14.3 mm) that are primarily confined to infragranular layers. Based on anatomical reconstructions and previous measurements of spiking, we put forward the hypothesis that thick-tufted neurons in rat vibrissal cortex receive input of whisker motion from slender-tufted neurons onto their apical tuft dendrites and input of whisker touch from thalamic neurons onto their basal dendrites. During tactile-driven behavior, such as object location, near-coincident input from these two pathways may result in increased spiking activity of thick-tufted neurons and thus enhanced signaling to their subcortical targets.
Project description:3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is known to enhance tactile sensory perception, an effect that contributes to its popularity as a recreational drug. The neurophysiological basis for the effects of MDMA on somatosensation are unknown. However, MDMA interactions with the serotonin transporter (SERT) and subsequent enhancement of serotonin neurotransmission are well known. The rat trigeminal somatosensory system receives serotonergic afferents from the dorsal raphe nucleus. Because these fibers express SERT, they should be vulnerable to MDMA-induced effects. We found that administration of a challenge injection of MDMA (3 mg/kg i.p.) after repeated MDMA treatment (3 mg/kg per day for 4 days) elicits both serotonin and norepinephrine efflux in the ventral posterior medial (VPM) thalamus of Long-Evans hooded rats, the main relay along the lemniscal portion of the rodent trigeminal somatosensory pathway. We evaluated the potential for repeated MDMA administration to modulate whisker-evoked discharge of individual neurons in this region. After surgically implanting stainless steel eight-wire multichannel electrode bundles, we recorded spike train activity of single cells while activating the whisker pathway using a piezoelectric mechanical stimulator. We found that repeated MDMA administration increased the spontaneous firing rate but reduced both the magnitude and duration of whisker-evoked discharge in individual VPM thalamic neurons. The time course of drug action on neuronal firing patterns was generally consistent with fluctuations in neurotransmitter efflux as shown from our microdialysis studies. On the basis of these results, we propose that single use and repeated administration of MDMA may "distort," rather than enhance, tactile experiences in humans, in part, by disrupting normal spike firing patterns through somatosensory thalamic relay circuits.
Project description:In this paper, the tribological behavior of 316L stainless steel with heterogeneous lamella structure (HLS), prepared through 85% cold rolling technology and subsequent annealing treatment (750 °C, 10 min), were conducted on a ball-on-disc tribometer under different normal loads in dry ambient air conditions. The morphologies, structures, and compositions of the raw and worn surfaces were analyzed by 3D surface profilometer, XRD, SEM, EDS and TEM. Based on this, the results showed that the HLS 316L stainless steel samples exhibited lower and more steady friction coefficients than coarse-grained samples, especially under higher loads, which can be attributed to the existence of numerous oxidative particles across sliding interfaces. However, the wear resistance of HLS 316L stainless steel sample was a little weakened compared to that of the coarse-grained sample under a normal load of 5 N. When the load increases up to 15 N, an obviously decreased wear resistance was found for the HLS of the 316L stainless steel sample, which was 50% lower than that of coarse-grained sample. This can be ascribed to the more severe oxidative and abrasive wear performance of HLS 316L stainless steel sample under dry sliding conditions.