The ability to form an accurate map of sensory input to the brain is an essential aspect of interpreting functional brain signals. Here, we consider the somatotopic map of vibrissa-based touch in the primary somatosensory (vS1) cortex of mice. The vibrissae are represented by a Manhattan-like grid of columnar structures that are separated by inter-digitating septa. The development, dynamics and plasticity of this organization is widely used as a model system. Yet, the exact anatomical position of this organization within the vS1 cortex varies between individual mice. Targeting of a particular column in vivo therefore requires prior mapping of the activated cortical region, for instance by imaging the evoked intrinsic optical signal (eIOS) during vibrissa stimulation. Here, we describe a procedure for constructing a complete somatotopic map of the vibrissa representation in the vS1 cortex using eIOS. This enables precise targeting of individual cortical columns. We found, using C57BL/6 mice, that although the precise location of the columnar field varies between animals, the relative spatial arrangement of the columns is highly preserved. This finding enables us to construct a canonical somatotopic map of the vibrissae in the vS1 cortex. In particular, the position of any column, in absolute anatomical coordinates, can be established with near certainty when the functional representations in the vS1 cortex for as few as two vibrissae have been mapped with eIOS.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Interpreting BOLD: a dialogue between cognitive and cellular neuroscience’.
One contribution of 15 to a Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Interpreting BOLD: a dialogue between cognitive and cellular neuroscience’.
- Accepted July 11, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.